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KSO’s 30th Anniversary Season — 5 concerts in 4 cities in 3 counties; be sure to join in

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra lights the fuse on its 30th anniversary season October 16.

Music/Executive Director and founder James R. Cassidy started the orchestra by unknowingly sending its first season brochure to Northern Kentucky dogs and cats via a regional pet food company’s mailing list.

Cassidy reminisces, “After the brochure went out, I received a call from a gentleman in Erlanger who asked how I had gotten his name. I countered with a quick line about a demographic study, and he said “That’s great, but this brochure was sent to my dog.”

I then replied,
“I bet your dog eats Iams pet food.” Sending 3,000 season brochures to pets was an inauspicious way to launch a new symphony orchestra, but 29 years later, the KSO (fka Northern Kentucky Symphony) is still presenting some of the most engaging and unique programming in the nation.

For its 30th season the KSO returns to auditoriums, a Cathedral and a former street trolley depot spanning four cities (Erlanger, Cincinnati, Highland Heights and Newport) in Boone, Hamilton and Campbell counties.

Like last season, concerts will be offered in-person and via live streamed for $35 per single ticket or $150 for all five concerts. The KSO will adopt the safety protocols of each respective venue that are in place on the date of the performance.

The New Bs
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Cot. 16

Drees Homes Auditorium (St. Henry High School, Erlanger)

The KSO literally trumpets, rockets and dances to open its 30th season.

This all-orchestral program features not the Three Bs (Bach, Beethoven and Brahms) but the New Bs — (Boyer, Bates and Bartok). Peter Boyer’s “New Beginnings” (2000) opens with a driving fanfare that gives way to a haunting lyrical melody and zippy, boisterous finish. Grammy award- winning composer and DJ Mason Bates brings his samplings and computer- driven tempi and percussive sounds to his 2018 work The Art of War, featuring sounds of the U.S. Treasury printing presses, a co-mingling of American blues and Iraqi folk music, and the training of a U.S. Marine Corps mortar platoon.The program concludes with Béla Bartók’s 20th c. warhorse — Concerto for Orchestra (1945).

Psalms Sung Blue

7:30 Saturday, November 13

Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, (Cincinnati)

Collaborating with the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains
 Choir and its director Matthew Geerlings is always an uplifting
artistic treat for both musicians and the audience. King David’s
 Psalms have long inspired composers over the centuries.
 George Frideric Handel’s Dixit Dominus (Psalm 110) was 
written in Italy when Handel was 22 years old, and 
demonstrates his mastery of counterpoint, melodic invention
 and dramatic gesture. The piece is a choral tour-de-force and
 regarded as one of Handel’s finest works. Alexander Zemlinsky’s fantasy-style setting of the popular Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) is a chromaticized tone-painting of the pastoral setting with God as the shepherd. The last Book of Psalms (No. 150), enjoins everyone to praise God with music and dance. Devout Catholic, Anton Bruckner closes the program with his uplifting psalm of praise, power and glory.

A Parting Opus

7:30 Saturday, January 29, 2022
Greaves Concert Hall, (NKU)

The KSO returns to the venue of its very first concert in 1992 — Greaves Concert Hall (NKU) — for Gustav Mahler’s final complete composition — his Symphony No. 9. It is a poignant musical farewell penned by one of the first international conductor-composers who bridged the 19th & 20th centuries and expanded the symphonic form to its limit. The recent loss of his 7-year-old daughter and his own fatal heart condition diagnosis no doubt influenced Mahler’s reflective and highly regarded work. The KSO has offered commissions to U.S. Poet Laureates to write poetry inspired by Mahler’s 9th Symphony. As a reflective summation of their own lives and works, these original poems will be juxtaposed with the KSO’s performance of Mahler’s parting opus.

The Greatest Showmen

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 5, 2022 
Drees Auditorium (St. Henry High School, Erlanger)

British comedic actor, writer, director, composer Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the silent-film era. Chaplin’s trademark character “The Tramp” incorporated pantomime and quirky movements to create an iconic figure that appeared in most of his films from 1914-36. The KSO will screen his 1928 film The Circus, as it performs Chaplin’s own 1967 revised score (restored for live performance by Timothy Brock). Following an intermission, the KSO turns to Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of P.T. Barnum in the 2017 film — The Greatest Showman. Composers Benj Pasek & Justin Paul penned the film score and popular tunes “This Is It,” “From Now On” and others, for which the KSO and a local cast will present several selections in this old and new musical/
theatrical double-bill.

Studio 54 Revisited

7:30 Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Newport Car Barn (Newport)

Last year, when the KSO was frantically searching for a venue for its season finale, it stumbled upon the Newport Car Barn — the old depot (built in the 1890s) for electric trolley cars. As it is being renovated into a unique event space, the KSO thought it would be a “slammin’” place for a concert/dance and 30th season finale/party. Forty-five years ago a popular music era was born, that was a truly unifying force, bringing together all races, ages and genders to simply share a good time. That music of course was known as Disco. These highly produced and thickly orchestrated songs drove everyone to the dance floors of clubs across the world. Studio 54 was the exclusive club in New York City that became synonymous with Disco, celebrities and other associations. The KSO authentically performs the charts of Abba, Barry White, The Village People, Vicki Sue Robinson, Kool & the Gang and many more with its studio orchestra and vocalists amidst the mirrored balls, lights and nostalgia. Don’t miss the Tri-state’s only symphonic dance party.

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Drees Homes Auditorium at St. Henry H.S.

For 30 seasons the KSO has differentiated itself from more traditional orchestral offerings via its unique thematic presentations and its mission to make symphonic music and the concert experience attractive, accessible and affordable.

Tickets for each show this year remain where they have been for several years at $35 to experience great musicians, guest artists and innovative programming unique to our region.

For those who need to stay home, the KSO continues live streaming each concert (with multiple cameras) for your
‘at home access’ for the price of a single ticket. Subscribers to all five shows get in-person, preferential seating, flexible use and access to live streams with a $25 savings. Tickets are available online at kyso.org or by phone at (859) 431-6216.

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