To read a transcript of this video, click here. Video by Jenny Wells/UK Public Relations and Marketing
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 22, 2013) — Playing in one of the nation's most critically acclaimed student orchestras is accomplishment enough for many college instrumentalists, but playing on national stages and with some of the world's best musicians is something most professional musicians still covet. However, for the members of University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra this is just second nature.
Since John Nardolillo took the conductor's podium, the UK Symphony Orchestra has enjoyed great success sharing the stage with such acclaimed international artists as Lynn Harrell, Gil Shaham, Mark O'Connor, Sarah Chang, Marvin Hamlisch and Natasha Paremski, as well as Pink Martini and the Boston Pops. They have even performed with the legendary Itzhak Perlman twice.
"It's awesome we get to tell others in the future we get to play with these great artists," said cellist and music performance sophomore Jerram John. "I think my experience here will be a great tool for me to be able to go on in my career."
Postgraduate Charlie Lockhart agrees. "When I first applied and came to UK, I never expected to get to perform with these great artists. For example, Itzhak Perlman — I grew up listening to his recordings. He is the inspiration, or the reason I play violin. I never thought I would even see him in a concert, but rather I got to perform with him."
As part of these visits, UK students have been the beneficiaries of powerful educational opportunities in practice and performance frequently having not only the chance to share a stage with these celebrated artists, but often getting to spend time with the musicians and ask them questions.
"They get to play with professionals who demand a certain level of preparation, a certain level of execution, so anytime you are working with somebody who is actually making a career in music it ups your game a little bit," said Scott Wright, associate professor of clarinet.
UK Symphony Orchestra can thank a partnership between Nardolillo and Michael Grice, director of the Singletary Center for the Arts, for the majority of these performance opportunities. Recognizing the incredible student talent of the orchestra, Grice worked with Nardolillo to ensure the scheduling at least one performance with a professional artist each year as part of the center's Signature Series.
"It is very rare that you have teachers and professors or conductors as dedicated as he (Nardolillo) is to bringing in talent. It really helps students grow a lot. We learn so much even in that short time we spend with professional musicians. It's something we look forward to every year," said violinist and arts administration senior Kierstin Quick.
Currently, UK's orchestra members are rehearsing for their next Signature Series performance with American soprano Christine Brewer considered one of the top 10 sopranos in the world. The orchestra will join Brewer on stage 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, in the Singletary Center Concert Hall.
"Christine Brewer is a fabulous singer," said Quick. "We are all very excited to get to play Wagner. It's going to be an incredible concert."
In addition to major classical talents, UK Symphony Orchestra has performed three times with folk icon Arlo Guthrie. All three events provided UK's musicians with such great learning experiences as performing on the famed Carnegie Hall stage and playing a live recording with the legend on his CD "In Times Like These."
Based on the success of the orchestra's own schedule and their partnership with the UK School of Music's acclaimed UK Opera Theatre, other performing and recording opportunities have come to fruition. The orchestra performed with soloists at the Kennedy Center in the Kentucky production "Our Lincoln," where they also played a preview of excerpts from the new opera "A River of Time" with UK Opera Theatre vocalists. They also performed in the world premiere and on the premiere cast recording of noted composer Thomas Pasatieri's opera "The Hotel Casablanca" with the UK opera program.
In addition to these major credits, UK Symphony Orchestra became one of a select group of university orchestras to sign a contract with Naxos, the world's largest classical recording label. The recording contract resulted in a critically acclaimed CD of composer George Frederick McKay's "Epoch: An American Dance Symphony" with the UK Women's Choir.
"It was on my bucket list as a musician to play at Carnegie, to play at the Kennedy Center, to do a side-by-side with a major orchestra, do an outreach tour, play with Gil Shaham, Sarah Chang, Itzhak Perlman, I didn't know that all those things would happen within the space of three years while I was a student," said violinist and graduate student Megan Lineberry.
Tickets for UK Symphony Orchestra's upcoming concert with Christine Brewer are $45 to $25 based on seating location. A student ticket price of $15 is available for students with a valid ID. A processing fee will be added upon completion of the transaction. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Singletary Center ticket office at 859-257-4929, visiting online at scfatickets.com, or in person at the venue.
Upon completion of this concert season, UK Symphony Orchestra will travel to China this summer to perform. UK Symphony Orchestra is one of several ensembles housed in the UK School of Music at UK College of Fine Arts.
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