Music: Trouble for Moderns

The Louisville Orchestra's brave project for commissioning contemporary music, backed by a $500,000 Rockefeller grant, is in trouble. Its quota — 40-odd new works played and recorded every year—has faded to a mere seven this season. Reason: only 1,021 of the planned 6,000 record subscriptions have been sold, partly because of shoestring promotion. But Louisville still has i) an orchestra that has learned to read modern scores better than any other in the U.S., and 2) a fat bag of new music, some of it masterly, e.g., Roger Sessions' Idyll of Theocritus, Elliott Carter's Variations for Orchestra.


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