Arts and Culture

The Louisville Orchestra announced its 2022-2023 performance season Tuesday, which will include world premieres by the inaugural cohort of the organization’s new Creators Corps residency program, a concert series in Southern Indiana and at least a dozen free performances.

Interim executive director Graham Parker told WFPL News that much of the programming is underscored by the orchestra’s reorientation toward “artist-driven civic leadership.” 

“Which is [the] idea that the orchestra plays a fundamental role in a healthy society, a society healing from the last two and a half years, from generations of inequality and access,” Parker said. “And how the orchestra and music, in general, is an essential ingredient to that recovery, to that healing.” 

He pointed toward examples such as Creators Corps, which will bring three composers to live and work in Louisville. Each Creators Corps artist will receive health insurance, housing and work space in the Shelby Park neighborhood, a $40,000 annual salary and access to the orchestra and music director Teddy Abrams to create new music. 

“[We’re] not just asking them to write for the orchestra on the main stage, but write with community partners, find community groups that you resonate with and bring that skill the composer has to a community,” Parker said.

Parker also said the eighth annual Festival of American Music is another set of concerts underscoring the orchestra’s new ambition. 

The festival features a new work by one of the Creators Corps composers, a piece from 2021 Grawemeyer Award winner Olga Neuwirth, a composition by Atlanta-based, Emmy Award winner Joel Thompson, and two Leonard Bernstein compositions: Symphony No. 3, “Kaddish” and Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety.” 

“Sometimes the subject matter was a little too provocative [at that time],” Parker said of Bernstein’s work, in particular these two symphonies which didn’t receive rave reviews when they premiered. 

“Sometimes he was dealing with social or civic rights issues that some folks just felt a little uncomfortable with. He was a man grappling with sexuality, with his own identification with religion.”

Parker is also excited about a new Southern Indiana concert series, which will be held at Indiana University Southeast’s Ogle Center.

Here’s a brief overview of the orchestra’s 2022-2023 season, which begins in mid-September: 

  • Pop Series under the direction of principal pops conductor Bob Bernhardt, featuring guest artists like Broadway star and “The Gilded Age” actor Kelli O’Hara, an Aretha Franklin tribute concert and the Texas Tenors
  • Classics Series, nine concerts curated by music director Teddy Abrams, including the Festival of American Music and a program in which Abrams performs Beethoven’s “Fifth Piano Concerto” and conducts the composer’s famous “Fifth Symphony”
  • Coffee Series of six Friday matinees at the Kentucky Center
  • The three-concert Family Series at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall, which will have a new focus on storytelling and include a performance of Mason Bates’ “Philharmonia Fantastique: The Making of the Orchestra,” accompanied by animation
  • The new Nightlites at the Ogle, four concerts of classical repertoire that will be performed at the Ogle Center at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany. 

The orchestra will also soon release details about their revamped “Music Without Borders” series, and every concert in that program offering will be free of charge.

“So all economic barriers are being removed,” Parker said of that series.

He added that the organization is in the process of seeking out partners in the west, south and east ends of the city for the “Music Without Borders” series, “for whom bringing the orchestra in would be part of that community’s healing or coming together.” 

Louisville Orchestra leadership is also planning to expand the number of free concerts throughout the season in general with the aim of at least a dozen opportunities for people to see the orchestra perform at no charge, including some concerts at the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall. 

And last month, the orchestra announced that the Kentucky General Assembly has earmarked $4.3 million to launch a two-year statewide tour beginning in 2023.

Disclosure: The Louisville Orchestra is an underwriter of Louisville Public Media’s Arts, Culture, Et Cetera newsletter.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts & Culture Reporter.