If you haven’t yet seen this fabulous documentary about the Louisville Orchestra and its visionary quest for new music, now is your chance. PBS has the television version of Music Makes A City streaming live right here.
Directed by Owsley Brown III and Jerome Hiler, Music Makes A City tells the story of how a young, semi-professional orchestra made Louisville an epicenter of contemporary music virtually overnight. Dedicated to the notion that a cultured city attracts wealth and power, Louisville Mayor Charles Farnsley in 1948 sought to improve the world with an ambitious project to commission new works by living composers. Embarking alongside the Louisville Orchestra and conductor Robert Whitney, The Commissioning Project was born and rapidly began to grow.
In 1953, the project got a massive boon. Receiving a $400,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Orchestra finally had the means it needed to share with the world what it had started. Over the following three years, it commissioned, performed and recorded 52 new pieces.
Eager to see the project through was Robert Whitney who came to the Orchestra in 1937. His tireless approach to each work as well as the growing fervor for contemporary music attracted to Louisville virtually every major composer of the twentieth century. In fact, the reverberations of the Orchestra’s endeavors reached all the way to the Soviet Union and in 1959 persuaded composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Dmitri Kabalevsky to visit the “home of new music.”
Certainly this film will have special significance to the citizens of Louisville, be they musicians or otherwise. But also it should be a reminder to all that when dedicated people work in harmony to achieve a common goal, they can change the world. Watch the preview here.
(Photo courtesy of www.louisvilleorchestra.org.)
Follow Michael on Twitter: @rackoflambert.
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