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Louisville Orchestra will perform inside Mammoth Cave with cellist Yo-Yo Ma

Music director Teddy Abrams leads the Louisville Orchestra through a rehearsal at Paristown Hall on Oct. 2, 2020.
Stephanie Wolf
Music director Teddy Abrams leads the Louisville Orchestra through a rehearsal at Paristown Hall on Oct. 2, 2020.

At the State Capitol Wednesday, the Louisville Orchestra announced it had added a concert to its spring lineup, set inside a cavernous venue with a world-famous guest.

Orchestra musicians will be joined by celebrated cellist Yo-Yo Ma for a performance in Mammoth Cave National Park on April 29, music director Teddy Abrams announced during the press conference in Frankfort.

“As part of our desire as musicians to be in every single part of Kentucky, there's one place that we feel needs a special kind of musical celebration. It's one of the greatest natural wonders of the world,” Abrams said.

Abrams immersed himself in the cave’s history and place to create a new work that will tell the “musical story” of the Kentucky geological landmark, and the orchestra will debut the piece at the April 29 performance.

Ma’s visit to Kentucky will also include a residency in Louisville, the music director added.

Mammoth Cave National Park superintendent Barclay Trimble said he began conversations with the orchestra in 2021, and over the last year-plus, they’ve discussed how to create connections between culture, music and public lands.

“So, for anyone who has ventured into Mammoth Cave, you can't help but notice how a single tune will carry through the vast passages,” Trimble said, noting that the national park has a centuries-long history of music with musical ensembles and artists having composed and performed works inside the cave.

The Mammoth Cave concert will be followed by a two-year statewide tour funded by a $4.3 million appropriation from the Kentucky General Assembly announced last legislative session.

Abrams said he wants these concerts to be about more than music, he wants them to be about building relationships.

“We might be in eastern Kentucky or western Kentucky, north, south anywhere, but we'll be in that community for a while,” he said. “We'll be in the community for multiple days. We're going to visit schools, libraries, community centers, and these concerts are not going to look like your normal concert. It's not just going to be an orchestra playing, and then it's over and you clap. We want these concerts to be something where everybody feels like they have ownership of this.”

The Bluegrass State is famous for its musical history, which is why, Abrams said, they’ve tried to create programming that will help Kentuckians feel a part of that musical legacy.

“Now, the Louisville Orchestra is embarking on a new adventure showing the world the full potential of what an orchestra can be,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday. “You aren't just asking people to come to you. You are meeting them, where they are, where music can connect to them in their neighborhoods.”

According to, the lottery for the Mammoth Cave concert tickets opens up at 10 a.m. on Jan. 30.

Disclaimer: Louisville Orchestra is among the financial supporters of Arts, Culture, Et Cetera, a newsletter from Louisville Public Media.