Arts & Culture

Boston Pops, UKSO to Play Keeneland Tribute


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 28, 2010) − Leaders from the University of Kentucky and Keeneland came together today to announce festivities that will bring the world renowned Boston Pops to the Bluegrass in celebration of 75 years of racing at Lexington's historic track. Exactly 75 years from the date Keeneland opened, the Boston Pops and the critically acclaimed University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra (UKSO) will come together to present a tribute concert to the racetrack on Oct. 15, 2011, at Rupp Arena.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the Boston Pops tribute as the cornerstone of our 75th Anniversary celebration,” said Keeneland President and CEO Nick Nicholson. “We plan to have celebrations commemorating our anniversary all year long, but it will culminate with this remarkable collaboration between the Boston Pops and the University of Kentucky. We give a special thanks to our good friends at Maker’s Mark, especially Bill Samuels, for helping make this possible.”

The side-by-side concert featuring music that references the horse will feature three distinct performance segments, as well as vignettes related to Keeneland's history. As part of the concert UK Symphony Orchestra will perform under the direction of John Nardolillo, and the Boston Pops Orchestra will perform under the direction of Keith Lockhart. Additionally each orchestra will perform one piece under the direction of the other conductor. The evening will then culminate with both orchestras playing together.

“The University of Kentucky is thrilled to play a role in bringing the Boston Pops to the Bluegrass,” said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. “Being able to play alongside the Boston Pops is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our student musicians, and I am pleased we can provide them with such an opportunity."

Proceeds from the Boston Pops and UK Symphony Orchestra 75th Anniversary Tribute to Keeneland will go to the UK Symphony Orchestra Outreach Endowment. The endowment is part of a three-year commitment made by Maker's Mark and Keeneland to raise money for a unique extension program highlighting the performing arts for elementary school children throughout the Commonwealth. Original donations to the endowment came from funds generated through the sale of limited edition Maker's Mark bottles honoring UK Athletics icons.

Since the endowment's launch, UK Symphony Orchestra has played for several thousands of school children in communities in Central and Eastern Kentucky. In the coming year, the orchestra has already booked dates to play both educational and outreach concerts in Central City, Danville, Elizabethtown, Leitchfield and Whitesburg. Additionally, the endowment has helped attract the National Symphony Orchestra to the Commonwealth to do a weeklong residency and several concerts around the state in February 2010.

"The performances around Kentucky funded by this outreach program are tremendous for our students in the UK Orchestra, the children who participate in the programs, and the communities who hear the concerts," said Nardolillo. "The money raised by our concert with the Boston Pops will help continue the valuable work the outreach program is doing and will have a lasting impact on the state."

Founded in 1936, Keeneland is the world’s largest and most prestigious thoroughbred auction house with four sales each year in January, April, September and November. It also conducts two of the premier racing meets each year in North America, in April and October. Moreover, Keeneland’s foundation has contributed nearly $20 million to equine research and safety efforts as well as health and education initiatives in Central Kentucky.

Since John Nardolillo took the conductor's podium of the UK Symphony Orchestra, it has enjoyed great success racking up recording credits, performing on prestigious stages at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and sharing the stage with such acclaimed international artists as Arlo Guthrie, Lynn Harrell, Gil Shaham, Mark O'Connor, Sarah Chang and Marvin Hamlisch. The orchestra will join Itzhak Perlman on the Singletary Center for the Arts stage in March 2010.

Among the UK Symphony Orchestra's recording credits are: "In Times Like These," recorded live with folk icon Guthrie in March 2006 at the Singletary Center for the Arts; the premiere cast recording of Thomas Pasatieri's "The Hotel Casablanca" with UK Opera Theatre; "Music of the Horse," a collection of equestrian-inspired music sponsored by UK School of Music and the Keeneland Foundation; and most recently a critically acclaimed recording of composer George Frederick McKay's "Epoch: An American Dance Symphony" with the UK Women's Choir. UK Symphony Orchestra is one of a very select group of university orchestras under contract with Naxos, the world's largest classical recording label.

Celebrating its 125th anniversary last spring, the Boston Pops has reached a landmark moment in a storied history that began with its founding in 1885. The Boston Pops Orchestra has distinguished itself as the founder of and leader in its genre, presenting the best of a wide variety of music from jazz to pop, indie rock to big band, film music to the great American songbook, and Broadway to classical. Though Arthur Fiedler's nearly 50-year tenure as Pops conductor (1930-1979) established the Boston Pops as a national icon, Conductor Laureate John Williams (1980-1993) and present-day Conductor Keith Lockhart (1995-present) have shepherded the orchestra through three decades of tumultuous change in the world of music. The Boston Pops, "America's Orchestra," performs for an audience of nearly 900,000 people annually in Boston, across the country and around the world, and reaches millions more through its recordings and television broadcasts. For more information, visit