Louisville Orchestra

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.

Louisville Orchestra
Louisville Orchestra Portrait.jpg
Former nameLouisville Philharmonic Society
LocationLouisville, Kentucky
Concert hallKentucky Center for the Performing Arts
Music directorTeddy Abrams

The orchestra performs its concerts at Whitney Hall (named for its founder) in the Kentucky Center for the Arts (Korda 2001) and The Brown Theatre (Anon. 2014). The current Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra is Teddy Abrams, who began his tenure in 2014 (Anon. 2016).

First Edition RecordingsEdit

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. Between 1955 and 1997 nearly 150 LPs were released, containing more than 450 compositions by living 20th Century composers (Anon. 2016). Forty-three of these recordings were subsequently issued on CD between 2003 and 2005 (Anon. 2018). 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.[when?]

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 OrchestraEdit

See alsoEdit


  • Anon. (2014). "2014–15 Classics and Coffee Concerts | The Louisville Orchestra". The Louisville Orchestra. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015. Retrieved May 29, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  • Anon. 2016. "About: History". Louisville Orchestra Website (accessed 29 May 2017).
  • Anon. 2018. "Labels: First Edition Music". Naxos Records website (accessed 5 December 2018).
  • Korda, Marion. 2001. "Louisville". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

External linksEdit