Arts & Culture

UK Student's Composition Selected for Philharmonic Program


A performance of Connor Shafran's "The Game of the Century" based on the famous chess match between Donald Byrne and a 13-year-old Bobby Fischer in 1956.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 9, 2014) — A composition by University of Kentucky freshman and  UK Percussion Ensemble member Connor Shafran has been selected for the Lexington Philharmonic's "New Music Experiment." The program gives composers high school age and older the opportunity to work with members of the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra, LexPhil musicians and Maestro Scott Terrell in a workshop featuring the composers' own work on April 12. 

Shafran's work "Der Letzte Traum von Passchendaele," or "The Last Dream of Passchendaele," and other selected young composers' work will be played by the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra with LexPhil musicians serving as section leaders in the workshop under the direction of Terrell. The composers of the selected pieces will work one-on-one with the conductor.

The "New Music Experiment" is part of the Lexington Philharmonic's Composer-in-Residence Program which aims to bring composers and musicians at different levels together to bring new works of music to life.

"Der Letzte Traum von Passchendaele" is a four movement tone poem that interprets the story of a fictional soldier fighting in the World War I Battle of Passchendaele through the melodic sounds of a full orchestra.

To hear a soundbite of his winning work, visit

Shafran, a native of Richmond, Ky., is part of the Honors Program at UK and is majoring in music education, music performance and German. He previously served as the principal percussionist in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra and took first place in the Winter Guard International's Independent World Percussion Championships with the indoor percussion group RHYTHM X.

During his senior year of high school, Shafran received the Emerson Scholarship for the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and attended under the instruction of Keith Aleo and Jung-Ho Pak.

While at UK, Shafran has received commissions for compositions from several chamber groups and solo performers, and he is currently published through Tapspace. He has written nearly 20 original works, several of which will premiere at his composition recital scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday April 12, in UK's Niles Gallery, located in the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Lab. The recital is free and open to the public.

Other noted works by Shafran include "Aurelia," a piece for wind symphony that is scheduled to be recorded by the UK Symphony Band this spring, and "The Game of the Century," a duet for two percussionists at a chess board, setting the famous game played by 13-year old Bobby Fischer and chess master Donald Byrne to rhythm. "The Game of the Century" will be released this coming fall by Tapspace.

Shafran's small-ensemble pieces continue to be played by groups at UK this semester at various events.

Shafran is currently studying with Professor James Campbell, director of UK Percussion Studies, and graduate students Chris Butler, Fransisco Perez and Brandon Arvay. He is also presented on his experience of building melodic percussion instruments out of propane tanks at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research, hosted by UK April 3-5. The presentation included a history of the instrument and its family, and a playing demonstration with fellow UK percussionist Aaron Marsala. 

The UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts has achieved awards and national and international recognition for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as for music education, composition, theory and music history.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;