Louisville Orchestra’s “Muhammad Ali” premiere, tribute to hometown legend

Posted on: November 3, 2017

“The story of Muhammad Ali is actually many stories,” writes Jeffrey Lee Puckett in Thursday’s (11/2) Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY). “Louisville’s citizen of the world impacted millions of lives…. To tell even a part of that story, Teddy Abrams, music director and conductor of The Louisville Orchestra, had to essentially invent a new form of entertainment that combines elements of orchestral music, opera, hip-hop, Broadway musicals, dance and poetry. The result is ‘The Greatest: Muhammad Ali,’ which makes its world premiere Saturday…. Abrams wrote the score and story but … the production is a collaborative adventure with director and performer Jubilant Sykes, an internationally recognized baritone, and a cast led by Louisville’s Jecorey Arthur as Ali. Rhiannon Giddens, familiar to indie-folk fans … is a featured vocalist…. Abrams began writing the piece before Ali’s 2016 death.… Abrams has long been a fan [of Jecorey] Arthur … Arthur is classically trained and a composer but also a hip-hop artist…. As a child, [Arthur] idolized Ali as a ‘black superhero’ and then Arthur learned, … ‘He’s right from my block so it’s unreal to even think that I’m going to be embodying him on stage. It’s terrifying but at the same time exciting.’ ”

Posted November 3, 2017

Pictured: Muhammad Ali; the Louisville Orchestra and Music Director Teddy Abrams