Arts & Culture

Violinist Jennifer Koh returns to Singletary Center to play with UK Symphony Orchestra

Jennifer Koh will join UK Symphony Orchestra in concert at Singletary Center this Friday, April 7.

LEXINGTON, KY. (April 6, 2023) —  As high winds and storms ravaged the Bluegrass in early March, violinist Jennifer Koh stood on the Singletary Center for the Arts Concert Hall stage warming up for the Kentucky premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s violin concerto, “Procession,” to be debuted with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra. The tranquility of her masterful musicianship belied the chaos outside, and with less than one hour to showtime, the Singletary Center was faced with the difficult decision to cancel the performance in the interest of safety for the musicians, patrons, volunteers and staff.

SCFA is excited to announce that the show will go on — rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7 — Jennifer Koh returns to Lexington to perform with the UK Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro John Nardolillo.

“Everyone was left wondering whether the dozens of hours of rehearsal by the UKSO would ever come to fruition and whether hundreds of ticketholders would ever get to enjoy hearing this mystifying piece,” said SCFA Director Matthew Gibson. “I’m excited for our audiences to finally get to experience this thrilling, and above all, musically stimulating performance; it will be a night to remember for everyone present.”

The highlight of Koh’s performance with the UKSO will be Grammy-nominated composer Missy Mazzoli’s new concerto for violin “Procession” — a piece commissioned for Koh by the National Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and BBC Radio 3 as part of Koh’s "New American Concerto" series, an ongoing commissioning project that explores the form of the violin concerto and its potential for artistic interaction with contemporary societal concerns and issues.

“Playing and performing new works is important because this is music of our time, the music closest to the students, and most easily understood by them,” said Maestro John Nardolillo on UKSO’s commitment to programming new works by young composers. “For both the orchestra and the audience, these are works of art that comment on the lives we are living now.”

“Procession,” which casts soloist Koh as a soothsayer, sorcerer, healer, and pied piper-type character, leading the orchestra through five interconnected healing spells, will make its Kentucky debut this Friday.

The concert will also include the Kentucky premiere of Outi Tarkiainen’s “Songs of the Ice” and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances.” 

Tickets for Jennifer Koh plays Mazzoli with the UK Symphony Orchestra are $23 for general admission, $10 for students, and free for UK students with a valid ID before the day of the performance (available only through 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 age 6 and older are welcome.    

About UK Symphony Orchestra 

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, and played 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 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.