Home » Louisville Orchestra documentary earns classical music’s version of the Oscar

Louisville Orchestra documentary earns classical music’s version of the Oscar

LONDON (September 28, 2012) – “Music Makes a City,” a film documenting how the Louisville Orchestra in the late 1940s rose from near dissolution to international acclaim has won a 2012 Gramophone Award for best classical music film of the year, what some in the industry regard as “the Oscar” of the classical recording industry.

A Louisville-based production team led by Owsley Brown III and Robin Burke produced the feature-length documentary over the course of six years. “Music Makes a City” is a tale of ambitious civic aspiration, cultural ingenuity and how Louisville became the world’s unlikely capital for new orchestral music in the 1950s, thanks to visionary leadership and a commitment to making the arts accessible to every citizen of the city.

Brown, who co-directed the film with Jerome Hiler, will accept the Gramophone Award in the DVD/documentary category at a ceremony Friday, Sept. 28 in London. Gramophone Magazine critics, along with classical music industry representatives including retailers, broadcasters, musicians and arts organization administrators, judge the annual awards competition.

“This award caps an incredible run for our film ‘Music Makes A City,’ ” said Brown. “The film documents an incredible story of American ingenuity and we’re so thrilled to receive this now when today’s Louisville’s Orchestra is experiencing a rebirth of its own. There were challenges for orchestras 50 years ago, just as there are today. While the solutions today are different than they were in the 1940s, it’s the passion for bringing the arts to the broadest possible community that connect these two moments in the orchestra’s storied history.”

“The entire orchestra family applauds Owsley Brown III and his brilliant team who brought our historic story to life,” said orchestra CEO Robert Birman.  “The film itself is a work of art and it is deserving of the international recognition it continues to earn.  We could not be more pleased for Owsley and his creative partners who devoted an extraordinary amount of research and devotion to this unique and internationally significant part of Louisville’s past.”

The Louisville Orchestra returned to the concert stage earlier this month after more than a year of absence during which time musicians and management negotiated a modern and sustainable cost structure. With that in place, the Orchestra is looking forward to a full slate of performances in 2012-13 featuring classics, pops, and numerous innovative collaborations underway this fall and winter to mark the orchestra’s 75th anniversary season.

“Music Makes a City” documents the bold steps taken by what was a struggling, semi-professional orchestra in 1948 as it began a novel project to commission new works from contemporary composers around the world. The new works were performed in weekly concerts for several years and recorded and sold worldwide by subscription.

The architect of this ambitious approach was then-Mayor Charles Farnsley, who pioneered the idea in Louisville that a city with thriving arts would also thrive economically. Conductors Robert Whitney, for whom the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts’ Whitney Hall is named, and Jorge Mester, who presently serves as music director for the Louisville Orchestra, led the fledgling orchestra during the pioneering Commissioning Project. During this time, the orchestra commissioned and recorded nearly every living composer of note at the time, among its more than 400 commissions and world premieres. No other orchestra can match this contribution to contemporary music culture.

“Music Makes a City” debuted in theaters in 2010 and is now available on DVD. It received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Musical America and others.

For information on “Music Makes a City,” including how to purchase the DVD, visit www.musicmakesacity.com.

For information on the Louisville Orchestra, including performance and ticket information for the 75th anniversary season, visit www.louisvilleorchestra.org.