Arts and Culture

The Louisville Orchestra has announced its 2016-17 season, which features luminaries like conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and cellist Yo-Yo Ma alongside a Shakespeare-themed concert and a new work from conductor/composer Teddy Abrams.

Abrams is a protege of Thomas, who leads the San Francisco Symphony. Reflecting the Louisville Orchestra’s renewed commitment to American music, Thomas will conduct a program entitled “Mavericks,” which focuses on American composers.

British composers will also get the spotlight this season. Ma’s appearance with the orchestra will include a performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto, which was composed in 1919 and has become an important part of cello repertoire. This season will also see the return of violinist Augustin Hadelich, winner of the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, performing Britten’s Violin Concerto.

Louisville audiences will get their first chance to hear a performance of the 2016 Grawemeyer Award winner for music composition: “let me tell you,” a song cycle by Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen. The libretto for the songs comes from the lines spoken by Ophelia in “Hamlet.” This piece will be on a “Shakespeare in Music” program alongside excerpts from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Each season has seen a major new composition from Teddy Abrams, and this year’s piece is a tribute to one of Louisville’s favorite sons. According to Abrams, “Muhammad Ali Portrait” will be “a living, breathing orchestra jazz work that fuses multiple styles, including rap.”

Last year’s “Louisville Concerto,” which brought together different local artists to create an original piece with the orchestra, will come back for a second incarnation.

In addition to the classics season, the orchestra will celebrate 20 years of Pops conductor Bob Bernhardt with a “Star Wars”-inspired tribute to John Williams and a circus-themed Christmas show. The orchestra is also collaborating with the Speed Museum’s film program to provide live music for a new baseball documentary, in partnership with the Louisville Slugger Museum.