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The Louisville Orchestra is the primary orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky. It was founded in 1937 by Robert Whitney (1904–1986) and Charles Farnsley, Mayor of Louisville. The Louisville Orchestra employs salaried musicians, and offers a wide variety of concert series to the community, including classical programs featuring international guest artists, pops performances, and education and family concerts. In 1942 the orchestra adopted the name of the former Louisville Philharmonic Society (founded in 1866), which it kept until 1977 before reverting to its original name (Korda 2001). The orchestra is the resident performing group for the Louisville Ballet and the Kentucky Opera, and presents several concerts across the Kentucky/Indiana area.
The orchestra performs its concerts at Whitney Hall in the Kentucky Center for the Arts (Korda 2001) and The Brown Theatre.
First Edition Recordings
Ten years after its origin, the Orchestra launched First Edition Recordings, becoming the first American orchestra to own a recording label. In 1953, the Orchestra received a Rockefeller grant of $500,000 to commission, record and premiere 20th-century music by living composers, placing the Louisville Orchestra on the international circuit. The Louisville Orchestra has earned nineteen ASCAP awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. The history of commissioned works project is detailed in the documentary Music Makes a City.
The Louisville Orchestra was awarded grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the National Endowment for the Arts, both for the purpose of digitizing the master tapes and restoring the music scores for archiving the Orchestra's historic First Edition Records recordings. Some of the recordings were re-released on CD by Santa Fe Music on the First Edition Music label.
The Louisville Orchestra has performed for many events including "A Festival for the Arts" at the White House, the Inter-American Music Festival at the Kennedy Center, "Great Orchestras of the World" at Carnegie Hall, and toured Mexico City. In 2001, the Louisville Orchestra received the Leonard Bernstein Award for Excellence in Educational Programming, presented annually by ASCAP and the American Symphony Orchestra League to one orchestra in North America.
Music directors of the Louisville Orchestra
Robert Whitney (1937–1967)
Jorge Mester (1967–1979)
John Nelson Artistic Advisor (1979-1980)
Akira Endo (1980–1982)
Lawrence Leighton Smith (1983–1994)
Joseph Silverstein Artistic Advisor (1994-1995)
Max Bragado-Darman (1994–1998)
Uriel Segal (1998–2004)
Raymond Leppard served as Artistic Advisor (2004–2006)
Jorge Mester (2006–2014)
Teddy Abrams (2014–present)
List of symphony orchestras
List of attractions and events in the Louisville metropolitan area
Korda, Marion. 2001. "Louisville". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
Louisville Orchestra Musicians Association Website
Louisville Orchestra Collection at University of Louisville Archives and Records Center
Music Makes a City IMDB
Louisville Orchestra discography, forum, and marketplace at Discogs
Art of the States: Louisville Orchestra eight performances by the orchestra