“Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.” — Chinese proverb
Teddy Abrams & team innovate around COVID
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Poplar Ventures leads the way
Bellarmine launches data science internship
UofL Speed School ignites love of science
Tendai Charasika to guide tech transfer
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February 9, 2021
A CHAT WITH AN INNOVATOR
The Louisville Orchestra innovates around COVID
Image courtesy Louisville Orchestra
Orchestras across the country were hit hard by COVID restrictions. Many of them stayed silent, hoping that the pandemic would be short-lived. But Teddy Abrams, Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra, took innovative steps early on to bring the orchestra’s music to Louisville through virtual concerts performed safely from the stage at Old Forester’s Paristown Hall.
Louisville Future spoke with Abrams about the steps he took to ensure the music went on.
Walk us through the process you used to innovate.
Abrams: We started very early, pretty much at the end of March 2020. We just accepted more dire circumstances right away. We decided we were going to do everything we could because we couldn’t risk the future of the orchestra with a situation like that if it continued to get worse.
We all got together as an organization — from the musicians to the staff to the Board and me — and created an innovation committee, where we put any idea on the table, no matter how far out there, no matter how outrageous or expensive. It didn’t matter.
So what did the committee decide on?
Abrams: We ended up coalescing around three big values. One was dealing with the public health crisis. The second was looking at inequality through the lens of education (we believe that everybody deserves equal music education). Lastly, was access for all, meaning that there should be no barriers to entry to the orchestra in a year like this. Finances or circumstances should not be the reason that somebody cannot have a relationship with us.
"We began the LO Virtual Edition in which we offer online concerts live from Paristown Hall. Each concert is then remastered and offered on demand."
— Teddy Abrams, Louisville Orchestra
How did it all roll out?
Abrams: It turns out when you start with a big, crazy idea, there are lots of issues you have to confront. With the education portion, we met with people who are passionate about funding education. But we also had to confront school district issues, like can you allow people who are not teachers to be on Zoom calls with students they’re facilitating? It eventually turned into where teachers would create videos in which their students would play. Our musicians would listen and provide feedback, and we created a whole new relationship with JCPS.
Will you continue the relationship with JCPS after the pandemic settles down?
Abrams: That’s the goal. We have big plans for JCPS for the future.
On the topic of making the orchestra’s music available to everyone, we know that you personally went to the streets and performed. Can you talk about that and what other measures you've taken to get the music to people who can no longer attend concerts in person?
I played in the courtyard of Treyton Oaks Towers, where the residents could open their windows and listen. I also performed from a flatbed truck going around the Shawnee and Chickasaw areas.
The investment this year in creative programming is very strategic because we know that a lot of places are playing it very safe. So we began the LO Virtual Edition in which we offer online concerts live from Paristown Hall. Each concert is then remastered and offered on demand.
You've also been innovating on the type of music you're offering.
Abrams: Yes, we still have our regular programming, but we're building new ones from scratch. We have a show with Sam Bush, the bluegrass musician, a show with soul and folk singers, and a show about the history of Black music from Africa to Hip-Hop. We're always innovating the concerts.
Explore innovation with the Fast Frontiers podcast
If you enjoy discovering innovation in surprising places and hearing stories from entrepreneurial leaders, Fast Frontiersis your new must-listen to podcast. Host Tim Schigel, Managing Partner of Refinery Ventures, brings you interviews form leading funders, ecosystem builders, corporate innovators, and startup founders. Your next big idea is one episode away!
Wendy Lea, CEO of Energize Colorado — S2: E1
What is your potential? How do you create an independent entrepreneurial path? Leading digital innovations strategist and ecosystem development guru, Wendy Lea, shares her story and strategies.
There is more innovation happening in the Midwest than you think. Get insight on the region and access to capital from M25 founder and partner Victor Gutwein. CBInsights recently identified M25 as the most active investor in Illinois, Michigan, AND NEBRASKA.
Steve Walchek, Chief Innovation Officer of FIS — S2: E3
From founder to product manager, to business development and everything in between, FIS Chief Innovation Officer Steve Walchek has done it all. Gain an edge from Steve's insight on different destinations along an innovator's journey.
UofL has hired alumnus, football star, and seasoned tech founder Tendai Charasika to help guide innovations developed at UofL to market. He will work with inventors and the Commercialization EPI-Center to connect UofL technologies to industry and startups.
With a blend of on-demand and live sessions, the virtual 2021 program is designed to provide you with the latest industry updates and flexibility to view content and company pitches according to your schedule. Co-produced by InvestMidwest and the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium. Register HERE.
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KNOW YOUR CITY
Have you checked your "Louis-Q" recently?
Here are the questions:
What Louisville native was the author of 25 mystery novels in “The Alphabet Series,” which featured female detective Kinsey Milhone?
Which Louisville college celebrated its athletics program’s rise to NCAA Division 1 in 2020?
Although it originated across the river in Southern Indiana, this pizza chain grew from humble origins to worldwide dominance, until its founder was involved in a scandal in 2018. Name the pizza restaurant chain, and for bonus points, the man that it was named after.