Arts & Culture

UK Symphony Orchestra to Present Mahler's 'Titan' Symphony, Sibelius Violin Concerto

photo of UK violinist Madison Jones

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 15, 2022) — The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra (UKSO) returns to the Singletary Center at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 18, with Mahler's Symphony No. 1 "Titan" and Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. The performance will feature a solo performance by violinist and graduate student Madison Jones, a winner of the UKSO Concerto Competition. 

Mahler’s "Titan' is considered a masterpiece of orchestral writing, describing youth, nature, love, life, death and spiritual transfiguration. 

UKSO Conductor John Nardolillo brings the orchestra back to UK campus following their performance at the College Orchestra Directors Association National Conference this past weekend at the University of Louisville’s Margaret Comstock Concert Hall. The upcoming performance will also feature  Finish composer Kaija Saariaho's "Ciel d’hiver" and Witold Lutosławski's “Fanfare for Louisville.” 

Witold Lutosławski wrote and premiered "Fanfare for Louisville" in 1986 for the presentation ceremony of the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Awards, founded by Louisville native H. Charles Grawemeyer in 1984. The Grawemeyer Awards are offered annually in the fields of Education, World Order, Psychology, Religion, Spirit, and Music Composition. Lutosławski was honored with the first award in Music Composition in 1985 for his Symphony No. 3. Kaija Saariaho, one of Finland’s most prominent living composers, was honored in 2003 with a Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for her 2000 opera, L’Amour de loin. 

Tickets for UK Symphony Orchestra concerts are $10 for general admission, $4 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. 

Founded in 1918, the UKSO is a 100-member all-student orchestra, presenting classical, chamber, opera and education concerts. The group is made up of undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States, Asia, South America, Africa and Europe. The 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. 

UK’s orchestra has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., tours the state of Kentucky regularly and has 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 World Equestrian Games, a performance that featured more than 1,500 performers and 200 horses that was seen live on NBC in the United States by 39 million people, and by an estimated 500 million more television viewers worldwide. 

Maestro 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, Austria, the Czech Republic 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. Nardolillo is the artistic director of the Prague Summer Nights Music Festival, and in 2004, he joined the faculty at the UK School of Music, where he serves as the director of orchestras. 

The Singletary Center is preparing to welcome audiences to events this semester but requests that everyone, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, remain masked at all times. The safety policy applies to students, faculty, staff and community visitors. 

The UK Symphony Orchestra is housed in the School of Music at UK College of Fine Arts. The UK School of Music 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. 

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.