The city usually has a pretty good turnout for events at Waterfront Park, especially when they involve fireworks – Thunder, 4th of July, Bats Friday Night Fireworks. You get the picture. In his interview with Leo Weekly, Teddy Abrams said, “Of course, the fireworks are going to be spectacular – Louisville does fireworks better than anyone. What I want people to do is come for the fireworks, and stay for the orchestra.” And that is what the people of Louisville did last Saturday for the 4th of July. Activities started around 5:00 pm for kids and adults at the Great Lawn. Louisville bands Jacob Duncan Trio, Niles Foley and Lazy Sunday took the stage throughout the evening to provide some local entertainment. Then the main event started coming together. I arrived about 45 minutes before the Louisville Orchestra took their places for the National Anthem, just in time to wish Tyler Dippold good luck and claim a spot in the front row. The rain had drenched a lot of the grassy area, so most folks were sitting back in lawn chairs or heavy duty blankets, but I knew I wanted to be front and center. How often do you get to see the Louisville Orchestra play outdoors in that kind of space, and up close?! The answer is not often. As the musicians were warming up, folks from the Orchestra and the Waterfront Park spoke about the excitement of the collaboration, and Mayor Fischer thanked the 20,000+ people for supporting their community.
Even with one arm, Teddy Abrams can do it all. His enthusiasm as he conducted the Orchestra was electrifying – you just couldn’t help but smile as you were watching. And the talent that the musicians possess is incredible. I think there were a lot of people at the Waterfront who wouldn’t ordinarily attend an Orchestra performance, so Teddy was intentional about playing at least a few pieces that they would recognize to keep them engaged. They opened with Beethoven’s Fifth (after the Star Spangled Banner) and later included the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and John Williams’ Star Wars theme song. Apparently someone even had a lightsaber ready to go.
As if the Orchestra musicians themselves weren’t enough, several special guests played during their set as well. Teddy Abrams invited Kentucky native Ben Sollee, who was one of the people who had convinced him to move to Louisville. I get chills just from listening to Ben sing and play the cello on my iTunes, never mind watching him firsthand. With the full Orchestra behind him, it made the performance that much better. Along with Jecorey “1200” Arthur, Teddy has been involved with the Music Makes a City project, so it was no surprise that 1200 joined the musicians on stage. Tyler Dippold, Natasha Foley, Nick B and DJ Deuce all performed with him as well, most of whom are part of the regular crew (check out a clip from the show here). The response from the crowd, as always, was phenomenal. Jecorey has many fans in his hometown, and his popularity continues to grow as he gets involved with more community events like this one. Ben Sollee and 1200 are incredibly different in their sound and style. And yet, the Orchestra was able to play with both of them, proving the versatility of instrumental music. This was clearly part of Teddy Abrams’ thoughts, as he said that his “plan is [was] to break the musical barriers.” It was wonderful to see the warm reception from our city throughout the evening. Two gigantic thumbs up to all who were involved with this magnificent event. -Brittany