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'Music Makes a City': A film about a little orchestra that could

September 21, 2010 |  1:13 pm


In "Music Makes a City," a feature-length documentary opening on Friday, co-directors Owsley Brown III and Jerome Hiler offer a stirring antidote to all the negative news about struggling American orchestras.

The documentary tells the dramatic and surprising story of the Louisville Orchestra, which earned international prominence by becoming the capital of new music in the 1950s. The long list of works heard in the film were either commissions or premieres recorded by the Louisville Orchestra.

It’s also the story of two men, conductor Robert Whitney and Mayor Charles Farnsley, who helped revitalize and transform a city that had been hard hit by a devastating flood in 1937.

Whitney arrived fresh from Serge Koussevitzky’s conducting class, where his classmate was Leonard Bernstein, to find an orchestra with only a few professional musicians and no horn section or bassoonist.

When Farnsley, an unexpectedly engaging mix of populist and high-brow, became mayor in 1948, he helped transform the Louisville Orchestra and the city. At the height of its fame, the Louisville Orchestra was visited by the likes of Martha Graham and Dmitri Shostakovich.


To read more, go to http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/09/music-makes-a-city-a-film-about-louisvilles-little-orchestra-that-could.html.

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