Arts and Culture

Final preparations are underway for this weekend’s Thunder Over Louisville, including a sound check on Thursday at the Galt House for the musical soundtrack.

For the first time ever, the fireworks display will be synchronized to music provided by the Louisville Orchestra. Artistic director Teddy Abrams selected about 40 excerpts of music, each about 30 to 40 seconds long, ranging from Beethoven to Katy Perry. The orchestra recorded the soundtrack back in October, and the snippets have been edited together, which Abrams heard for the first time on Thursday.

In the command center high above the Ohio River, show tech director Mandie Creed-Clark clicked a mouse and played a few minutes of the orchestra soundtrack as Abrams listened with a smile on his face. Although he chose the clips, he didn’t choose the order in which they’ll be heard during the show itself. He said he kept the large audience in mind when looking for a balance between familiar and unfamiliar music.

“You want to play pieces that are familiar, that people go, okay, I know that one, that piece is awesome,” Abrams said. “But then you want to play a piece that somebody maybe has never heard before but thinks to themselves, wow, that’s so incredible, I have to go experience THAT and listen to that.”

He said that he also had to consider the overall mood of the music when making his selections.

“Everything has to be very impressive and also it has to be fireworks-worthy. You can’t play certain pieces which might be really sustained and quiet and calm, even if they’re really special and beautiful, if fireworks are not really going to be appropriate choreography for that work,” said Abrams.

Show director Wayne Hettinger says the fireworks display was coordinated to complement the music.

“Even when we were taking the music selections and programming music, we were well aware of – we get to these notes, we’ll back off of the sound and go to a lot of color. So it was a whole new way of approaching the soundtrack than ever before,” said Hettinger.

Organizers say the outdoor sound system has been upgraded this year in honor of the orchestra’s participation.

The fireworks show will begin at 9:30 pm on Saturday.

Tara Anderson is a writer, host, and audio producer.