World premiere of Louisville Orchestra’s new concerto inspired in part by Bernheim

By Jenny Zeller

Creators Corps TJ Cole enjoying a beautiful fall day at Bernheim.

When one thinks of the Louisville Orchestra and its legendary history of recording American music, one also thinks of innovation, creativity and excellence. Under Teddy Abrams’ leadership, the Louisville Orchestra has simply thrived with ongoing efforts to advance creative diversity and equity, to democratize their arts and educational programming, and to better serve diverse communities and populations.

Photos by TJ Cole.

In 2022, the organization launched Creators Corps, a new program that awards individuals a paid opportunity to live in Louisville, collaborate with the Louisville Orchestra to write new works, participate in community engagement programming, and maintain a vibrant and active presence in the local community for the better part of a year. As an organization with experience in both sound and music, an Artist in Residence program established for 43 years, and a history of hosting the Louisville Orchestra for performances in the late 1980’s, Bernheim was honored to be identified as a collaboration partner in the Creative Corps program.




This past November, Bernheim hosted Creators Corps recipient TJ Cole, while they were writing their piece Phenomenal of the Earth, a concerto for synthesizer and orchestra inspired by nature in the Louisville environs and features TJ themselves as the synth soloist. Their experience at Bernheim was a huge part of their creative process and affected the piece in a significant way. American music will welcome this new composition to its ranks with the world premiere, performed by the Louisville Orchestra at the Kentucky Center on Saturday, March 4, at 7:30 PM.

“One of the most formative parts of my writing process was being able to stay at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest. My time at Bernheim consisted of a few dreamy days of hiking interspersed with fervent writing. Instead of feeding off of my mostly urban surroundings, I was able to exist and create in an environment that immediately felt gradual, spiritual, balanced, cleansing, and focused.” ~ TJ Cole


The Arts in Nature program at Bernheim and the Louisville Orchestra share many of the same goals in the pursuit of fulfilling our respective missions and contributing to the region’s cultural vitality; attract exceptional artistic talent to Greater Louisville; challenge, inspire and educate the audience through culture and creative arts; and elevate this region’s reputation on a global scale. The Louisville Orchestra is an organization changing what a 21st century orchestra can be and Creator Corps is an innovative and exciting project Bernheim is thrilled to support. See you at the Kentucky Center this weekend!

Creator Corps has been funded by a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and individual donors.

Left: TJ Cole in Bernheim’s lodging facility creating a wind component to incorporate into the work. Right: The Louisville Orchestra recreating this unique wind sound during a rehearsal of Phenomenal of the Earth.

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