By Quin Welch, Building Kentucky
The Louisville Orchestra announced will embark upon a two-year musical journey across Kentucky beginning in May, playing for audiences throughout the Commonwealth as part of “In Harmony – The Commonwealth Tour of the Louisville Orchestra.”
These concerts will include full orchestra performances as well as bring orchestra musicians for intimate, collaborative engagements in schools, community centers and libraries in dozens of communities.
“With the ‘In Harmony’ tour, the Louisville Orchestra becomes the only orchestra in the United States committed to traveling to every corner of its state to partner in performance with artists across our communities,” Music Director Teddy Abrams said. “There is no so-called urban-rural divide in music. Art and music transcend geographic boundaries. We couldn’t be more excited to share our treasured work with our fellow Kentuckians in their hometowns and home counties.”
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a fervent supporter of the arts, applauded the Louisville Orchestra’s drive to connect with its neighbors throughout the Commonwealth.
“I commend the Louisville Orchestra for bringing these experiences to communities across Kentucky, ensuring all of our people have access to these performances which can bring joy, comfort and inspiration,” said Beshear. “When we work together for the greater good, we can accomplish some pretty incredible things and the Louisville Orchestra is leading by example.”
“In Harmony” Tour has statewide reach
The Louisville Orchestra will kick off the tour in eastern Kentucky on May 17, 18, and 19 with performances in Prestonsburg, Pikeville, and Harlan respectively. During that week, Kentucky-born and raised violinist Tessa Lark joins the orchestra to showcase cornerstones of the traditional repertoire, along with arrangements of famous Kentucky fiddle tunes.
The orchestra will travel for performances in Glasgow, Covington, Bowling Green, Ashland, and Bardstown the weeks of July 3 and July 10. Abrams will both conduct and be a piano soloist in Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. The concert will highlight both the Commonwealth’s musical legacy and traditional American tunes.
In September, the orchestra will welcome the singular mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, who was raised in Murray. These concerts will include performances in Henderson, Owensboro, and Madisonville. During these concerts, Thile will perform the Kentucky debut of his Mandolin Concerto, a showcase for his vocal and finger-picking talents.
The tour will conclude in late February and early March 2024 with stops in Danville, Frankfort, Georgetown and Fort Knox. The dates and venues for each stop on the tour will be announced soon.
“This tour is a mark of things to come from the Louisville Orchestra,” said Graham Parker, the Louisville Orchestra’s Chief Executive. “We are a community-centric orchestra, striving to foster artist-driven civic leadership and cultural well-being throughout the Commonwealth. Meeting people where they are is a key part of bringing people into the arts, and that is what we hope to accomplish through this statewide tour.”
The tour wins legislative support
The tour was made possible through a budget appropriation from the Kentucky state legislature, a huge win for the arts in the Commonwealth.
From the very outset of discussions with Sen. Robert Stivers (R-25), President of the Kentucky Senate, and Rep. David Osborne (R-59), Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, it was clear that by using the musical resources of the Louisville Orchestra, communities, regions and partners could be brought together to experience a shared togetherness that only music can provide.
“My mother instilled an appreciation for many genres of music in me from a very young age. Mom saw the value of music as one that develops critical thinking skills and expands perceptions,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “When presented with the opportunity to support this outreach for those who might not otherwise have access across this beautiful state, I had to say yes to the full experience.”
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for Kentuckians of all ages to come together and celebrate the music of the Louisville Orchestra. I am pleased that we were able to make the necessary funding possible and look forward to seeing this investment reach communities throughout the Commonwealth,” Osborne said. “Without a doubt, the Louisville Orchestra is engrained in our state’s cultural legacy. For more than eight decades it has made world-class performances accessible and served as a model for performing arts programs throughout the nation.”
In each community the Louisville Orchestra will serve, there will be proactive and meaningful outreach to work with schools, libraries, and community centers to introduce music and the musicians, and where possible to make music together with local musicians steeped in the traditions of the region. Free, full orchestra concerts in the evenings will showcase local talents, together with orchestra members and special guests, showing what bonds exist and what bridges are possible.
“We can’t thank our elected officials enough for their critical support of our organization and for the arts as a whole,” Parker said. “What started as a dream – to tour our beloved Commonwealth and share our music with its people – is now a reality, thanks to our legislature.”