Arts & Culture

UK's Chorale, Opera Theatre to lend their voices to LexPhil's Opening Night

UK Chorale and soloists from UK Opera Theatre will perform as part of Lexington Philharmonic's Opening Night concert, "Visions & Voices."

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 19, 2023) — Lexington Philharmonic’s sold out Opening Night concert "Visions & Voices" features the epic combined orchestral and choral forces of The Lexington Singers and Children’s Choir, the University of Kentucky Chorale, and featured soloists from the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre at the Singletary Center for the Arts on Oct. 20. The program opens with two powerful works by Composer-In-Residence Shawn E. Okpebholo.

In the words of Okpebholo, "Sing Dumb" (2016) for voice and orchestra is a piece responding to “a shared feeling of dumbfoundedness,” in the wake of violence and political turmoil in the United States. Okpebholo’s "Stomp the Dust!" (2016), translated from the Swahili phrase “Kutimbua Kivumbi,” was inspired by the composer's trip to Kenya, “a colorful place, reflected visually and also in the vibrant and welcoming nature of the people.” Closing the program is Carl Orff’s magnum opus, "Carmina Burana," a heavily rhythmic and Renaissance-influenced setting of 24 medieval poems featuring orchestra, soloists and over 200 epic voices.

To bring the full power of "Carmina Burana" to life, LexPhil is proud to again collaborate with the Lexington Singers and UK Chorale, offering many young people their first experience singing with a professional orchestra.

“The UK Chorale is excited to be joining forces with the LexPhil, Lexington Singers and our UK soloists," says Jefferson Johnson, D.M.A., director of The Lexington Singers and Choral Studies at the University of Kentucky School of Music. “The Chorale includes some of our top undergraduate singers at UK, but most of these students have never had the opportunity to perform the iconic 'Carmina Burana.' It is a bucket-list piece for any classical performer — we are honored to be a part of this epic event!”

For more information about subscriptions and tickets, please contact the Lexington Philharmonic at 859-233-4226, or visit

2023-24 Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence Shawn E. Okpebholo

LexPhil’s 2023-24 Season marks the return of LexPhil’s celebrated Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence program, the bi-annual commissioning program founded in 2012 through the generosity of the late Ronald Sayakaly. LexPhil is thrilled to have appointed Lexington-born, Grammy-nominated composer, Shawn E. Okpebholo, as the sixth composer to be named LexPhil’s Composer-in-Residence.

About Shawn E. Okpebholo

Grammy-nominated artist Shawn E. Okpebholo is a critically-acclaimed and award-winning composer. The press has described his music as "devastatingly beautiful" and "fresh and new and fearless" (Washington Post), "affecting" (New York Times), "lyrical, complex, singular" (The Guardian), "searing" (Chicago Tribune), "dreamy, sensual" (Boston Globe), and "powerful" (BBC Music Magazine). Okpebholo's music has been featured in recital and concert series in nearly every U.S. state and all over the world, including Aspen Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Newport New Music Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Now Series, Cincinnati and Houston Symphony Orchestras, and the United States Air Force Strings. Okpebholo regularly receives commissions from noted soloists, universities and organizations. Grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, Chamber Music America, Barlow Endowment of the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, Tangemen Sacred Music Center and others have also supported his work.

He earned his master's and doctoral degrees in composition from the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati, and had studies in film scoring from New York University through the Buddy Baker Film Scoring Program. Growing up, a significant part of his music education was through The Salvation Army church, where he regularly received free music lessons. Inspired by that altruïsm, Okpebholo is passionate about music outreach to underserved communities. Currently, he is Jonathan Blanchard Professor of Music Composition at Wheaton College-Conservatory of Music, having also taught at Union University, Northern Kentucky University and CCM. Shawn lives in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, with his wife, violist Dorthy, and his daughters, Eva and Corinne.

About The Lexington Singers

With approximately 300 voices across five choirs, The Lexington Singers is one of the oldest, continuously performing, independent community choral groups in the United States. The organization has entertained hundreds of audiences throughout Kentucky, the United States, and the world since its founding in 1959. Tour concerts have included performances at St. Peter’s basilica at the Vatican, St. Mark’s basilica in Venice, Vienna’s Hofburg Palace, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, and Carnegie Hall in New York City. To learn more about the Lexington Singers, visit

LexPhil believes in the transformative power of live orchestral music and envisions a culture of curiosity for the creation and performance of great music and the essential role it plays in a vibrant community and education system. LexPhil is guided by an unwavering commitment to its core values of artistic excellence, innovation, collaboration and accessibility.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.