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The University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts

UK Symphony Orchestra

Director: John Nardolillo     Course No.: MUC 191/691, Tu/Th 3:30-6:30 PM +concerts & special events
Audition Requirements: Open to any UK student by successful audition

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UKSO Concert 2013 - photo by Dana Rogers Photography

Founded in 1918, the University of Kentucky 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. 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 2010 the orchestra played for the Opening Ceremonies of the World Equestrian Games, a live performance that featured more than 1,500 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.

The UK Symphony Orchestra collaborates yearly with UK Opera Theatre and has recently presented productions of Porgy and Bess, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, Hänsel und Gretel, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Carmen, Lucia di Lammermoor, Gianni Schicchi, Suor Angelica, Romeo et Juliette, Falstaff, Brundibar, Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera. 

The orchestra program at UK has been featured on television and radio around the world including NBC, ESPN, NPR, PBS, the BBC, the CBC, CCTV (China), ARD (Germany), SVG (Sweden) and RAI (Italy). The orchestra’s performances and recordings have also been featured and reviewed in the national press, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe the Los Angeles Times, Opera News, the American Record Guide, Billboard, and Vanity Fair magazine.