Arts & Culture

UK Symphony Orchestra and Friends Conclude 2017-2018 Season With Bernstein at 100 Celebration

Watch the promo video for Bernstein at 100.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 17, 2018) — The critically acclaimed University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro John Nardolillo, will conclude its 2017-18 season with an all-Leonard Bernstein concert celebrating the 100th birthday of the composer, conductor, educator, musician, cultural ambassador and humanitarian. The concert will begin 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, at the Singletary Center for the Arts.

Featured soloists and ensembles for the Bernstein concert include the UK Choirs, under the direction of Jefferson Johnson; the UK Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Miles Osland; UK School of Music faculty members Associate Professor of Clarinet Scott Wright, Professor of Violin Daniel Mason and Professor of Violincello Benjamin Karp; and guest conductor James Burton, from the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The concert will also showcase the talents of several students. Conducting will be doctoral student Sey Ahn and graduate student Logan Blackman, and soloists for the concert include graduate student Jessica Bayne, vocal performance juniors Joseph Kingsbury and Audrey Adams, and music senior Taylor Comstock.

This Bernstein at 100 concert will feature selections from a large variety of the composer’s masterpieces including “Candide,” “Serenade,” Mass, “Trouble in Tahiti,” “On the Town” and “West Side Story.”

Bernstein at 100 is the worldwide celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein, which officially began on Aug. 25, 2017, Bernstein’s 99th birthday, and will continue through his 100th year until Aug. 25, 2019. The two-year global celebration of the life and career of the 20th century cultural giant includes more than 2,000 events on six continents, kicked off at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts last September.

James Burton was appointed conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, and to the new position of Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) choral director in February 2017. Born in London, he began his training at the Choir of Westminster Abbey, where he became head chorister. He was a choral scholar at St. John's College, Cambridge, and holds a master's degree in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, where he studied with Frederik Prausnitz and Gustav Meier.

Burton has conducted concerts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Hallé, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, Royal Northern Sinfonia, BBC Concert Orchestra and Manchester Camerata; in early 2016 he made his debut with the Orquestra Sinfònica Nacional with concerts in the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. He has also conducted in London's West End and led a United Kingdom tour of Bernstein's “Wonderful Town” in 2012. His extensive choral conducting has included guest invitations with professional choirs including the Gabrieli Consort, the Choir of the Enlightenment, Wrocław Philharmonic and the BBC Singers, with whom he performed at the Dubai Opera house in its inaugural season.

Burton’s commissions have included the music for the 2010 World Equestrian Games opening ceremony, a setting for chorus and orchestra of Thomas Hardy's “The Convergence of the Twain” commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, and a recent Christmas carol premiered by the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge, live on BBC Radio 3. His choral works are published by Edition Peters. As BSO choral director and conductor of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, Burton occupies the Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky Chair, endowed in perpetuity.

Founded in 1918, the UK Symphony Orchestra is a 100-member all-student orchestra presenting more than 50 concerts each year, including classical, chamber and education concerts. The group is made up of undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States, Asia, South America and Europe.

UK’s orchestra has regularly performed with world-renowned concert artists including Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang, Sarah Chang, Gil Shaham, Lynn Harrell, Marvin Hamlisch, Denyce Graves, Christine Brewer, Pink Martini, Ronan Tynan, Mark O’Connor, Wynonna Judd, Keith Lockhart and Arlo Guthrie. The orchestra has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., toured the state of Kentucky regularly, and toured China, playing concerts in major concert halls in Shanghai, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Yangzhou and Beijing. The orchestra’s performance at Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts was broadcast on China Central Television, a network reaching more than 1.5 billion viewers. In the fall of 2010 the orchestra played for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 World Equestrian Games, a live performance that featured more than 1500 performers and 200 horses. The performance was seen live on NBC in the United States by 39 million people and by an estimated 500 million more television viewers worldwide.

John Nardolillo has appeared with more than 30 of the country’s leading orchestras, including the Boston Pops, the National Symphony, and principal orchestras of Seattle, San Francisco, Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas, Milwaukee, Utah, Columbus, Indianapolis, Oregon, Fort Worth, Buffalo, Alabama, Louisville, Missouri, North Carolina, Toledo, Vermont, Columbus, Omaha and Hawaii. He also recently conducted concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia; and Carnegie Hall in New York. Nardolillo made his professional conducting debut in 1994 at the Sully Festival in France, and has since made conducting appearances in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and China. He has led major American orchestras in subscription series concerts, summer and pops concerts, education concerts and tours, and for television and radio broadcasts. In 2004, Nardolillo joined the faculty at the UK School of Music, where he is currently serving as the director of Orchestras.

Doors for the UK Symphony Orchestra concert open at 7 p.m. with music beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $5 for students, and free for UK students with a valid ID before the day of the performance (at the Singletary Center ticket office). Tickets are available through the Singletary Center ticket office online at, by phone at 859-257-4929, or in person at the venue. Children 6 and older are welcome.

UK Symphony Orchestra is part of the UK School of Music at the UK College of Fine Arts. The school has garnered a national reputation for high-caliber education in opera, choral and instrumental music performance, as well as music education, music therapy, composition, and theory and music history.

photo of UKSO's Bernstein at 100 concert poster
UK's orchestra will conclude its 2017-18 season with an all-Leonard Bernstein concert celebrating the 100th birthday of the composer, conductor, educator, musician, cultural ambassador and humanitarian beginning 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 20, at Singletary.