Lions of Judah Enjoy an Evening with Teddy Abrams

The Lions were honored to have an intimate audience with Teddy Abrams at the Lion of Judah Dinner, held Wednesday, November 5, at Amy Trager’s beautiful downtown condo. The event was a celebration of Jewish women’s philanthropy, the accomplishments of the Jewish community and the talent and leadership Music Director Teddy Abrams brings to the Louisville Orchestra.

Those in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to get to spend time with Abrams and everyone enjoyed being together as Lions.

Event Co-Chair Denise Schiller had the honor of introducing the evening’s featured speaker, Teddy Abrams. She pointed out that he is only the seventh conductor of the Louisville Orchestra and is the youngest conductor ever of a major orchestra.

He began playing piano at age 3 and attended his first concert at age 9. A thank you letter Abrams wrote to Michael Tilson Thomas after that first concert opened many doors for him, and Tilson Thomas became his mentor. By age 11, Abrams was in college and at 15 he enrolled in the Curtis Institute.

She summarized some of his other accomplishments and noted that the publicity he receives doesn’t affect his ego, he just wants people to learn to enjoy music.

Abrams quickly charmed his audience with his magnificent playing and easy banter. He chose a wide variety of pieces including some improvisations as well as works by Bach and Bartok before concluding with some jazz.

He also spoke with pride of the Louisville Orchestra and the creative things they are doing like playing in smaller community venues to reach out to new audiences. He especially enjoyed a recent performance of Carmina Burana that brought together nine diverse choirs.

He shared bits of his personal history and the influence other Jewish musicians had on him, touching on Boris Thomashefsky, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein.
Abrams also said he frequently plays in his home and sets up speakers on the street. He invited people to stop in and listen and enjoy the music with him.

Event Co-chairs Debbie Friedman, Jane Goldstein, Cheryl Karp, Kate Latts and Denise Schiller each shared some of the Lion of Judah history, why it is important to them and the significant role women’s philanthropy plays in Louisville.

Friedman welcomed everyone and served as the emcee. Latts introduced the newest Lion of Judah, Margie Kohn, and in the ceremony to present her pin explained that the Lion of Judah division originated when the $5,000 minimum required of each Lion covered the cost of bringing a family of four from the former Soviet Union to Israel.

Karen Abrams presented the 2014 Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award to Jean Trager. Presented biennially, this national award recognizes a community leader who has endowed her own Lion gift and encouraged others to do the same.

Trager has not only endowed her own Lion gift, but the family made daughter, Shelley Kusman, and daughter-in-law, Amy Trager, Lions and endowed their gifts. She and her late husband, Bernard, z”l, devoted their lives to family, tikkun olam and work.

Karp talked about the wonderful things Campaign dollars support and the importance of endowing gifts to the Campaign, relating a personal story of an individual who was able to get the help he needed from one of the agencies supported by the Campaign.

Friedman and Goldstein spoke with pride of how Campaign dollars help support programs like BBYO which recently took 53 teens to a spirit convention, ensuring a growing Jewish identity among our teens.

They encouraged current Lions to reach out to other women, particularly younger women, to invite them to join the warm sisterhood built on a shared commitment to ensure that every Jew is responsible for one another.

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