Arts & Culture

UK Symphony Orchestra Welcomes Home Lyric Soprano Rachel Sterrenberg in Concert

Watch Rachel Sterrenberg perform music from act one, scene four of Benjamin Britten's "The Turn of the Screw."

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 6, 2019) — The critically acclaimed University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro John Nardolillo, is proud to welcome home alumna Rachel Sterrenberg for a concert 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, at the Singletary Center for the Arts.

Sterrenberg will be singing Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4. The lyric soprano earned her bachelor’s degree from UK in 2012, after studying with UK Opera Theatre.

As part of the concert with Sterrenberg, UK’s orchestra will also present the Kentucky premiere of “Rainphase,” a 2015 work by the young New Zealand composer Salina Fisher. According to the composer, “Rainphase” "draws on characteristics of water as rain: its shape and shapelessness, transparency and density, energy and calm, and its capacity for reflection in both literal and emotional sense." The concert will open with the Tragic Overture of Johannes Brahms.

Sterrenberg is a recent Curtis Institute of Music graduate. In 2018, she made her hometown debut with the Atlanta Opera as Chan Parker in Daniel Schnyder and Bridgette A. Wimberley’s “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” the role which marked her professional debut in the world premiere production for Opera Philadelphia. This season, Sterrenberg returns to Opera Philadelphia for Festival O19  and makes her Canadian debut with Opéra de Montréal as Pamina in “The Magic Flute.

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. 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 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 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.

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.

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 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.

headshot photo of Rachel Sterrenberg
Rachel Sterrenberg will return to her alma mater's stage at the Singletary Center Nov. 8 to perform with the UK Symphony Orchestra.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.