Arts & Culture

UK Symphony Orchestra Presents 'La Mer,' Elgar Cello Concerto This Friday


LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 23, 2022) — The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra (UKSO) takes the stage at the Singletary Center for the Arts 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 25, for their upcoming concert featuring JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung’s “Aqua” and Claude Debussy's "La Mer" or “The Sea.” The evening will also feature UKSO Concerto Competition winner Jerram John as a soloist in Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto.  

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Jerram John started his musical training at the piano and began pursuing cello at age 14. John has performed across the U.S. and Asia as an orchestral musician alongside world-renowned soloists Itzhak Perlman, Lang Lang and Gil Shaham, and under conductors Marin Alsop and Leon Fleischer. He is a two-time participant of the Brevard Music Festival, receiving the festival’s Outstanding College Student Award in 2014, and in 2019 he was selected as one of Garth Newel Music Center’s Emerging Artist Fellows. John is a passionate music educator and has been an active teaching artist for the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra’s community outreach programs, striving to provide high-quality music education to the next generation. John completed his bachelor’s degree at the UK with Benjamin Karp and his master’s degree at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University with Amit Peled. Currently, he is pursuing a doctor of musical arts degree at UK, where he is a teaching assistant and member of the Niles String Quartet. 

The UKSO program will also include Vaughan Williams' “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.” Under the direction of John Nardolillo, the UKSO’s 2021-22 season has featured works by six contemporary female composers: Hannah Lash, Natalie Dietterich, Angélica Negrón, Kaija Saariaho, Vivian Fung and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. 

“Aqua,” by JUNO Award-winning composer Vivian Fung, is inspired by Chicago’s Aqua Tower, an award-winning, 82-story skyscraper completed in 2010 and designed by Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects. Fung has a unique talent for combining idiosyncratic textures and styles into large-scale works, reflecting her multicultural background. NPR calls her “one of today’s most eclectic composers.” 

Tickets for UK Symphony Orchestra concerts are $10 for general admission, $4 for students and free for UK students with a valid UK 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 six and older are welcome.  

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. 

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 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 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.