Magazine article The New Yorker

Louisville Sluggers

Magazine article The New Yorker

Louisville Sluggers

Article excerpt

In 1948, the Louisville Orchestra, then only a decade old, was awash in red ink. The board president, Charles Farnsley, and the conductor, Robert S. Whitney, proposed a radical solution. Instead of trying to entice the public with a parade of star soloists, the orchestra would spend its money on commissioning new American music and putting it on record. Ten years later, the group had gained financial health and international renown--and First Edition, its very own record label.

Now, as the ensemble faces yet another fiscal crisis, the Santa Fe Music Group is releasing a series of remastered anthology disks, each dedicated to a single composer. Santa Fe's managing director, Matthew Walters, is a fan of the vinyl era, and he reveres the First Edition originals, most of which were supervised by the Columbia Records producer Howard Scott. The two-track system Scott often used (when he wasn't in sessions with Glenn Gould or the original cast of "My Fair Lady," that is) may seem simple today, but it offers that genuine in-the-hall feel that traditionalists cherish.

The releases have an appealing range, and you may find that those old cliches about American music--its "freshness," its "innocence"--really have some merit after all. …

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