Arts and Culture

The Louisville Orchestra announced its new season Friday and, for the first time in more than a year, it will feature in-person performances.

The season will focus on showcasing the work of local talent and artists from underrepresented groups.

“I am interested in making sure that every person in Louisville, when they come to see concerts, [sees] the vitality of the city reflected on our stage,” music director Teddy Abrams said during a Friday press conference.

The season opens Oct. 2 with the first concert of its Classics Series.

“A Concert for Unity” will be headlined by composer Valerie Coleman, a rising star in classical music and a Louisville native. It will also highlight seven works commissioned from local artists.

For those pieces, Abrams said the orchestra will ask musicians to respond to what’s happened in the city since early 2020.

“They’re going to create something that serves as essentially public art for our town, which is extremely important to us, that act of memorializing and helping us understand our history as it’s being created,” Abrams said.

Another Classics Series concert in early January 2022 will feature famed pianist Yuja Wang, performing the world premiere of a new piano concerto composed by Abrams.

Abrams said Wang is “one of the greatest pianists alive today.”

The orchestra will also celebrate Latin American music.

The three-part Festival of Latin American Music kicks off next March, and is a re-imagining of the organization’s annual Festival of American Music.

Salsa band People of Earth will join the orchestra for the first two concerts, presenting the debut of a work by a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Cuban composer Dafnis Prieto. Another part of the festival is a commissioned world premiere from Angélica Negrón, a Puerto Rican-born composer.

And the 2021-2022 season will feature the first concert in a multi-season look at the ties between Black and Jewish composers.

“In the Nazi era, there were all these Jewish composers, many of whom were inspired by jazz and Black musicians in America, who ended up not having the careers that they deserved, either because they were killed in the Holocaust, or their careers were snuffed out,” Abrams said. “So many Black composers in America, throughout the 20th Century, had a similar fate. Even if it wasn’t through the Holocaust specifically, it’s because they were never given the platform that they deserved.”

The concert “Reclaimed Treasures: Connections Between Black and Jewish Music” will be April 30, 2022.

Most of the shows for the new season will be at Kentucky Performing Arts. The orchestra said it will follow state guidance for COVID-19 safety protocols at shows. Tickets for the fall season are on sale now.

Information about the full season is available here.

The Louisville Orchestra also announced two free outdoor, in-person concerts in May.

On May 22 at the Belvedere and May 26 at Shawnee Park, the orchestra will perform a program called “American Soul,” featuring the music of popular artists like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.

There will be COVID precautions in place and a RVSP is required to attend.

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.