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Arts and Humanities Local News

Keep Louisville Symphonic Offers to Play With Opera, Director Says Talks Would Be “Presumptuous”

A group of Louisville Orchestra musicians has offered to accompany the Kentucky Opera’s performance of Carmen next month, but opera officials say any negotiations would be improper.

The opera typically performs with orchestra musicians, but performances are in question due to the ongoing labor dispute between orchestra management and players. There is no contract in place and orchestra concerts for the next two months have been canceled.

The musicians union has barred members from performing with the orchestra, but no similar ban is in place for the opera. General Director David Roth has promised to have live musicians for Carmen, but no deal has yet been worked out. Today, the group Keep Louisville Symphonic–which is made up of orchestra players–offered to perform with the opera.

“Our primary desire is for an agreement to be reached between the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisville Orchestra musicians so the Louisville Orchestra can once again perform for Kentucky Opera,” says Roth. “It would be presumptuous for Kentucky Opera to negotiate with any other organized group of players while the Louisville Orchestra negotiates with its musicians.”

Orchestral rehearsals for Carmen were previously scheduled to begin September 13th.

Keep Louisville Symphonic has held several fundraising concerts outside of official orchestra performances.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Keep Louisville Symphonic Plans Third Concert

The Keep Louisville Symphonic organization will have its third concert this weekend.

KLS was founded by the members of the Louisville Orchestra, which is currently undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The organization is meant to show that there is support for a 71-member orchestra, despite requests by orchestra management to trim the official ensemble by several members to cut costs.

The last two KLS concerts have been fundraisers for the group, but proceeds from Saturday’s event will go to tsunami and earthquake relief in Japan. The previous concerts were also full orchestra performances, but spokesperson Donna Parkes says the next concert will feature smaller chamber ensembles made up of orchestra musicians.

“This [the tsunami] was an event, obviously, that no one foresaw and something that we wanted to respond to quickly. To do that, to put on a full symphony concert, takes a great deal of organizing and time. This was our way to respond as quickly as we could to the crisis and try to raise some funds for those in need,” she says.

Parkes says there will likely be a full symphony performance later in April and two in May.

The orchestra management must submit a financial reorganization plan in court by the end of May. That’s when the musicians’ contract expires. Parkes says the musicians are still being paid with a grant from the ensemble’s endowment.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Keep Louisville Symphonic Plans Second Concert

The second fundraising concert put on by orchestra musicians apart from the official Louisville orchestra is this week.

The orchestra has filed for Chapter 11, though the musicians are still being paid and the season is continuing as planned. But, management is seeking to cut the number of players, and the musicians say that’s unacceptable. They founded Keep Louisville Symphonic last month to show that a 71-member orchestra could be supported largely through additional fundraising.

KLS held a free show last month and collected about $50 thousand in donations. Their concert Friday will not be free. Musician Kim Tichenor says the money raised will be used to pay overhead for future concerts. The rest of the money is being put in a fund. Tichenor says that money could be used to start a new ensemble if negotiations with the Louisville Orchestra don’t work out, or it could go to the orchestra if they decide to keep the current players on contract.

“It could be the Louisville Orchestra really decides to embrace Keep Louisville Symphonic’s mission, which is great symphonic music, then it’s possible we could support the Louisville Orchestra,” she says.

Orchestra management placed a note in a recent program apologizing to any patrons who donated to KLS thinking their money was going to the orchestra.

Tichenor says KLS isn’t trying to deceive anyone.

“It really was presented by Keep Louisville Symphonic,” she says. “I thought that was made pretty clear at the concert, so I’m sorry there was confusion. But it seemed pretty clear to me.”

They have said repeatedly they want to keep the orchestra active.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Orchestra Musicians Form New Organization, Will Host Free Concerts

The musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have started a new organization to raise money and sponsor free concerts.

Keep Louisville Symphonic is not affiliated with the orchestra, though it is made up of all the musicians and outside supporters. The orchestra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, but the musicians are still being paid and shows will continue. In addition, Keep Louisville Symphonic will host a series of concerts starting this month.

The concerts will be free, but donations will be accepted. Musicians Association chair Kim Tichenor says the idea for Keep Louisville Symphonic grew out of negotiations between the musicians and orchestra management. She says the musicians wanted to raise money to close a budget gap, but the management insisted on pay cuts and a smaller orchestra.

“So, what we have, again, done is taken all that collective energy and put it toward fundraising anyway,” she says, adding that the concert series will help prove the musicians’ point in negotiations. “You really do have to get creative in order to solve the problems. New creative programming can absolutely be an answer. New marketing, new fundraising, all of those things can be vital when you’re talking about problem-solving.”

Tichenor says none of the money will go to the orchestra, but rather to the players as they plan free monthly concerts under the Keep Louisville Symphonic moniker. In several other cities, musicians have started new orchestras to shed management during bankruptcy proceedings. Tichenor says that’s not necessarily the goal of Keep Louisville Symphonic.

“It’s just simply an organization that is absolutely dedicated to preserving symphonic music in Louisville, Kentucky,” she says.

The first Keep Louisville Symphonic performance will be on the 29th at Ballard High School.