August 24, 2011

A&E Guide 2011: Spotlight On Jonathan Mueller

This story has been updated.

Since the age of 6, all Jonathan Mueller wanted to do was play music — symphonic music, to be exact. And, until recently, that’s exactly what the concert violist did. Today, however, Mueller is one of 71 musicians struggling to make ends meet as the cash-strapped Louisville Orchestra has failed to offer them a contract they deem acceptable. 

It’s an unfortunate situation, dubbed a “suicidal act” by the orchestra’s musicians’ committee, and one whose twisted politics have been discussed ad nauseum. But despite growing frustration and looming uncertainty, Mueller and his fellow musicians have never wavered in their dedication to keeping symphonic music alive in Louisville.

As the orchestra’s future grew increasingly uncertain, a group of musicians banded together to form Keep Louisville Symphonic (KLS), a grassroots organization aimed at maintaining community commitment to orchestral music. “We’re trying to show the Louisville Orchestra board that there is excitement and there needs to be excitement about symphonic music in Louisville,” Mueller says.

With concerts throughout the city, KLS raises awareness for symphonic music and the essential place it holds in the Louisville arts scene. “I think the (Louisville Orchestra) bankruptcy has soured people’s opinion about symphonic music and about the whole orchestra in general,” Mueller says. “(There) are many people in this city that love symphonic music, and their love for symphonic (music) hasn’t dwindled, but their love for the Louisville Orchestra probably has. And so we’re trying to keep that energy and positivity going even in these nasty bankruptcy proceedings.”

The concerts have been a success so far. At KLS’s most recent performance, an OrKidStra show at Northeast Christian Church, more than 1,000 people showed up, something Mueller says is unheard of for this type of show. “At a normal OrKidStra concert, they have to give away tickets to get people to come … but this drew not only (most) of the families at Northeast Christian, but (also) a lot of the people who had been following Keep Louisville Symphonic since its inception in January.”

It’s moments like these that keep Mueller optimistic. “Sitting on stage, I couldn’t help but notice the enthusiasm level was through the roof,” he says. “People were so jazzed to be playing for that many people who were there to see live symphonic music played by professionals, and that’s what we’re going for. It’s keeping that goodwill going, finding the positivity in this situation we’re in.” —Jennifer Harlan 

Correction: This profile has been revised. The original version misstated the status of musicians' employment with the Louisville Orchestra. Although orchestra management has indicated it will be necessary to scale back the number of full-time musicians, there have been no layoffs. Contentious contract negotiations are under way.

well...not exactly

By Mr Realistic
"Sweeping layoffs? I believe that facts are that the musicians have refused work that the orchestra has offered. Also, isn't a free concert the same as giving away tickets??"

Get Real... Mr. "Realistic"

By EJB
I believe you should get your "FACTS" straight before making ignorant comments.

Setting the record straight

By ReneMagritte
Yes indeed, the Louisville Orchestra laid off all of their musicians because they wouldn't work part-time for scraps, so I guess they did refuse in the technical sense. Would you refuse to work if your job suddenly took away your full-time job and offered you a part-time job with no benefits, making like $7000 a year? I know I would...I'm glad for Jonathan and those at KLS trying to keep real symphonic music alive in Louisville, not some part-time community orchestra. KLS has ticketed their concerts in the past. I know because I went to one that was ticketed. Keep Louisville Symphonic!!

Grassroots Positivity

By Music Teacher
I believe that it is time for communities to support music not only for the times we are in, but also for our future. We live in a digital age where live music is fading away. Our children deserve the chance to experience the grandeur of the full orchestra. KLS!

I believe that it is time

By kitapbigi
I believe that it is time for communities to support music not only for the times we are in, but also for our future. We live in a digital age where live music is fading away. Our children deserve the chance to experience the grandeur of the full orchestra. KLS!evim şahane-yatak odası-bedava chat-chat-islami rüya tabirleri-evim şahane