Inbox — Oct. 1, 2008

Letters to the Editor

Oct 1, 2008 at 11:54 am


Many thanks for exploring the legacy of the Louisville Orchestra in some depth and introducing our Louisville Orchestra film project to your readers in the Sept. 17 issue (“Performance Enhancement” by Jeremy Pudgursky). 

We want it to be clear to your readers that our efforts over the past three years to bring this story to the screen have been an extraordinary collaboration between many dedicated people from Louisville, San Francisco, New York and beyond. Jerome Hiler and Owsley Brown III are the film’s co-directors, with Brown and Robin Burke of Louisville producing. The idea for the film was birthed while Owsley and Jerry were discussing the role of enlightened and visionary leadership in the arts following a George Balanchine ballet performance they attended. Both knew of Charles Farnsley and the Louisville Orchestra’s unique commissioning project — Owsley from growing up a classical music fan in Louisville and Jerry from the First Edition recordings. 

Exhaustive research has been conducted and we would be remiss not to set a few facts straight: Robert Whitney came to Louisville to lead the fledgling orchestra in 1937. Whitney conducted a series of children’s concerts starting in 1941, but our film does not surmise that this program was an inspiration for Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts.

Farnsley was Louisville’s mayor from 1948-1953. The Rockefeller Grant, a direct result of Farnsley’s unwavering determination, was for $400,000 in 1953, then $100,000 in 1957. So sizeable and rare was this award, not only because a politician was in pursuit, but also because it was the foundation’s first large grant ever awarded in support of the arts. As a result, the Louisville Orchestra was able to commission and record over 120 orchestral works by 20th century composers. 

The group of famous Russian composers, including such heavyweights as Shostakovich and Kabalevsky, visited Louisville in 1959, not 1953. 

These extraordinary accomplishments of our Louisville Orchestra and city were not by accident — they were, and continue to be, the direct results of a few visionary leaders, primarily Mr. and Mrs. Dann Byck Sr., Barry Bingham Sr. and Mayor Farnsley, working together to bring the music alive for the rest of us to enjoy and be encouraged by. 

Our film explores this deep and entertaining legacy. In September 2009, we will have another opportunity for audiences to visit with these inspired characters and rediscover the orchestra as it plays its way onto the world stage once again.

Robin Burke, producer; Jerome Hiler, co-director; Owsley Brown III, co-director and producer



In response to the Sept. 24 letter from Jessica Foss concerning the possibility of the relocation of Wayside Christian Mission: Chances are very high that no one stopped to think that this move would destroy your carefree vibe. Highlands residents seem to have a bit of clout in the city, possibly the mayor could form a committee on your behalf — maybe a groove patrol to keep you feeling safe and friendly. I am sure that if you asked anyone in the city if they would welcome a shelter in their neighborhood, they would say no. But the idea that Old Louisville or the South End should be picked for the purpose of keeping your area homogenized is absurd. 

While it may be true that these areas are “sprinkled with these individuals” (the homeless, drunks and crackheads), did you ever stop to wonder if the vibe in those parts of the city is bad enough as is? Maybe the Highlands isn’t as perfect as you would like to think. Unless you live at the tip of the Triangle, there is plenty of seedy shit going on in the 40204. Wasn’t that a meth lab that blew up at Bardstown and Grinstead this spring? Makes you want to do the big spit in your cup of HCC, doesn’t it? Maybe we could find a more remote area of town to concentrate these degenerates. How dare they be homeless in the Highlands. 

Wayne Raybourne, Louisville



To all the Highlanders freaking out about Wayside moving their way: Put your money where your mouth is. You’ll hear pseudo-liberal chatter on Bardstown Road all day about diversity and community, but when it comes time for this community to share its space with some of its more, uh, “diverse” members, it becomes clear that most Highlands residents’ idea of social justice is limited to making sure that $45 T-shirt is made with all-organic cotton. You really want a clean, peaceful neighborhood? Get rid of some the bars that crowd Bardstown and Baxter. I’ve experienced more distasteful behavior walking past Cahoots than I ever have walking past Seven Counties.

Robin Schmidt, Louisville



Jessica Foss could land a job doing PR for North Korea, judging by the way she whitewashed the serious drug, alcohol and crime problems the Highlands have grappled with for decades, insisting in her Sept. 24 letter that these social ills are endemic to downtown.

The Highlands, she says with equal overgeneralization, is “safe, friendly, carefree” and must be kept “happy, peaceful, beautiful” by blocking a proposal to place a homeless shelter on the neighborhood’s edge. She questions whether the writer of a previous letter is a Highlands resident. While I was for seven years, my memories include my car being broken into in my apartment-complex lot off Everett Avenue, possibly by a neighborhood resident who a police officer told me was arrested after about 50 stolen car radios were found in his home (was this safe, friendly or carefree?); a close friend forced to leave his nearby Cherokee Triangle apartment because a neighbor (the uncaring landlord’s son) used drugs and played deafening music every night (was this happy, peaceful or beautiful?); and another neighborhood resident arrested for mugging an elderly Bardstown Road store owner to get money for drugs. These three offenders, by the way, were fully employed and not homeless.

If Highlands residents were — as Foss insisted — “not snobs,” they would not filter their perception of crime and drugs to falsely identify the culprits as solely the destitute.

George Morrison, New Albany



All the people opposing the Mercy homeless shelter should be ashamed. For all their reasons, I still don’t understand how they can sincerely feel justified in their opposition. Homelessness and poverty are morally wrong, even if they are perfectly legal. The opposed do not care about homelessness or poverty, and they can’t see the real issue of why there is homelessness and poverty in the first place. The Original Highlands can no longer tout the cultural tip as its appeal (the neighborhood’s intolerance has been expressed loud and clear). I wish there was an accommodating space for the shelter here in Old Louisville — we may be the only neighborhood that’s not segregated.

Jacqueline Dobbs, Louisville