Now playing at the Quad Cinemas in New York — with an engagement to follow at Sunset 5 in Los Angeles — is Owsley Brown's documentary film Music Makes a City, an absorbing study of the Louisville Orchestra's great campaign on behalf of contemporary music from 1948 onward. Robert Whitney, the orchestra's scrappy young music director, undertook the seemingly suicidal scheme of presenting a new work on every subscription program. Crucially, he had the support of Louisville's benevolently authoritarian major, Charles Farnsley, who had a peculiar love of living composers, and who emerges in the documentary as a fantastic character in his own right. Within a decade, the orchestra had commissioned more than a hundred works and recorded the vast majority of them, with the help of a $400,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The Louisville also began issuing previously unrecorded works on its First Edition label — a prolific series that I consumed avidly in my college days. The film brings fascinating insights into the cultural life of an American city, and perhaps the most important lesson to take away from it is that through sheer conviction Whitney was able to carry his audience with him.