Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra’s new recording, “All In.”

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It’s axiomatic to the point of unthinking assumption, because if you go to just about any live performance by a pop music performer or band — rock, country, hip-hop or klezmer — there’ll be a merch area where CDs, t-shirts and other souvenir bric-a-brac are being hawked.

This is less the case at formal music venues, which is why it was so much fun to see the Louisville Orchestra’s merch area at its Ogle Center performance in November. We picked up a copy of the orchestra’s new CD, reviewed here.

Can official bumper stickers and tie-dye tees be far behind?

New Release: Teddy Abrams and the Louisville Orchestra’s “All In”, by Timothy Judd (The Listeners’ Club)

In September, the Louisville Orchestra released All In, its first recording in nearly 30 years. The album, which reached number one on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart, is filled with youthful energy and a thrilling disregard for boundaries.

It’s a positive review, and for us, All In is both welcomed and enjoyable. While the Louisville Orchestra never went away, currently it’s on a demonstrable upswing, and perhaps even a comeback.

My friend and former colleague Robert Simonds serves as the Louisville Orchestra’s Principal Second Violin. Recently, I asked him about this new recording and the atmosphere in Louisville. This excerpt from his response highlights the importance of an orchestra’s passionate service and engagement with the community:

Teddy (Abrams) has absolutely transformed the orchestra and truly deserves the title: Music Director. He’s not just the director of classical music during the weeks he’s here. Teddy is interested in the whole institution and maybe more importantly, its place in the community’s fabric. His openness to every corner of Louisville is inspiring. His fluency in so many styles is incredible. He’s the music director I’ve been waiting my whole career to play for because he’s the first leader that has made me believe that an orchestra can be important to is city.

We are really proud of the record. His piece is maybe the most challenging orchestral work I’ve ever performed, never mind recorded. One of our first violinists, Scott Staidle, has a saying about the older LO recordings: “We used to record an hour’s worth of music in 45 minutes.” Making this record made me truly understand what he meant. But that sums up Teddy’s operating principle. We go at a super-charged pace and when you’re in it, it can be disorienting. When the dust settles, we realize that we accomplished something great.

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