Documentary film provokes renewed interest in Louisville Orchestra’s commissioned works

Posted on: June 1, 2010

In Sunday’s (5/30) Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), Andrew Adler writes, “I got a call the other day from someone who just read my story about ‘Music Makes a City,’ the just-released documentary about the first 30 years of the Louisville Orchestra. My caller … had a question for me: In the wake of the film describing how the LO had commissioned so many new scores, why wasn’t the orchestra reprogramming them?” Adler points out that next season music director Jorge Mester will conductor one of the most celebrated commissions, Elliott Carter’s Concerto for Orchestra—but that it is one work of many. “Part of the problem is the sheer number of works—more than 150—that the orchestra commissioned during the 1950s under grants from the Rockefeller Foundation. … The broader issue of sustaining and renewing interest in this exceptional project brings up an undeniable reality: First performances come easily; second performances don’t. … The Louisville Orchestra’s commissioning project, however, carried an intrinsic bonus not present in most other genres. Besides the live performances, new scores were recorded on the orchestra’s First Edition Records label. … Still, valuable as recordings are as snapshot-in-time testimony to what the commissioning project produced, nothing can take the place of live performances for new generations of listeners. If we don’t revisit and reinterpret these works, they are apt to die off.”

Posted June 1, 2010