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Louisville Orchestra to launch residency giving new music creators full access to the organization

Music director Teddy Abrams leads the Louisville Orchestra through a rehearsal at Paristown Hall on Oct. 2, 2020.
Music director Teddy Abrams leads the Louisville Orchestra through a rehearsal at Paristown Hall on Oct. 2, 2020.

Louisville Orchestra is seeking three music makers to join its ranks for the 2022-2023 performance season. 

The orchestra will select three artists to participate in its new “Creators Corps” residency program, the organization announced Wednesday. Currently, there’s funding for three years of residency.

Each member of the cohort will receive an annual salary of $40,000, health insurance, plus housing and a studio workspace in the Shelby Park neighborhood. During this time, the artists will have full access to the orchestra and music director Teddy Abrams.

“The LO Creators Corps is the most ambitious large-scale project the orchestra has undertaken since I arrived in Louisville,” Abrams said in a press release, describing the new commissioning initiative as a “grand experiment.” 

“The concept developed from four critical lines of inquiry: how can we establish Louisville as a global center of creative music-making, how can we reposition composers as visible leaders with public service responsibilities, how can we provide our city with a direct and deep connection to the art-making process and how can we offer a 21st-Century response to the LO’s historic First Edition commissioning and recording project?” he continued.

The organization established its own record label, the First Edition Records project Abrams references, in the 50s, receiving support from the Rockefeller Foundation for the effort in 1953.

A three-year, $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as individual donors, are funding the new “Creators Corps,” a Louisville Orchestra spokesperson confirmed.

Jacob Gotlib, creative neighborhood residency program manager at Louisville Orchestra, told WFPL News that the residency builds on an increasingly central concept for the orchestra — “to embrace the idea that music is a fundamental part of civic life.”

Deeming this a “creators” residency, rather than a composer one, was intentional, Gotlib said.

They want artists of all musical backgrounds to apply and hope artists who don’t define themselves by the Western classical music tradition will do so.

The program is also meant to expand public perceptions of “the people who write music that the orchestra plays.”

Traditionally, a classical orchestra’s repertoire would be stacked with compositions from “dead white dudes,” Gotlib said. But he hopes people can start to see music makers as neighbors: the people you see at the check-out lane at the grocery store, or the gym, or the park. 

To achieve that, Gotlib said the selected creators will be encouraged to be “artist leaders… very engaged in the community, and visible and accessible.” The artists will also be encouraged to collaborate with each other, and can reapply or renew their residency for up to two additional years. 

“The goal is to have these people make a substantial impact [in Louisville],” director of marketing Michelle Winters told WFPL News.

And the initiative aligns with the orchestra’s broader goal to “reorient” itself toward being a more community-centered institution, Winters added. 

She said that shift in priorities includes revamping other Louisville Orchestra programs, including the Music Without Borders concert series.

The application deadline for “Creators Corps” is May 2. The orchestra hopes to announce the three creators in mid-June, and their residencies will begin Sept. 1 in time for the orchestra’s new season.

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