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Five Things: Teddy Abrams On Biking, Technology And Our Place In The Universe

Forecastle 2017 Friday_32
Photo by J. Tyler Franklin
Teddy Abrams and the Forecastle Symphony

This week’s guest is a big thinker, with his head in a million different places. He’s got a very public job that puts him in touch with a lot of people -- and the ensemble he leads had the number one classical album in the country last year -- but this was a rare opportunity to just sit down and talk with Teddy Abrams, music director of the Louisville Orchestra. 

On meeting his mentor, Michael Tilson Thomas, at age nine:

"I wrote him a letter after a concert I saw, and it was the first time I had ever seen a symphony orchestra. It was in San Francisco, a free concert, and I wrote him a long letter talking about how I decided, that day, during the concert, that I was going to be a conductor. I had asked him for conducting lessons, but when a 9-year-old asks you for conducting lessons, it's kind of like writing to an astronaut and saying, 'Can you bring me the next time? I'd love to visit the moon.' That's not how it works. But he did write me back and he gave me a lesson in his letter."

On getting around by bike instead of car:

"I find that my connection to a city is so enhanced when I'm walking and biking. The way I get to know a city, even the people and the culture, what it looks like and feels like, the exploration is so much more powerful by using my own two feet or a bike. And I feel like that's part of my job -- my job is to go and find where music can be helpful or is needed or can bring people together throughout this town, and I make an effort to bike throughout the town so that I can experience that firsthand."

On how humans' usage of technology is changing the world:

"I think that two things are going to determine the future of the species here: one is our relationship to the environment, meaning both the health and the adaptations that we're going to have to decide, and the other thing is going to be this technology -- and I don't mean just general technology, but this use of technology to relate to and connect to our world and more specifically the people in it."