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Kentucky Symphony Has Quite a Lineup for 25th Anniversary Season!

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra celebrates 25 seasons with a return to its first home, Northern Kentucky University’s Greaves Hall, for four of its five concerts in 2016-2017, beginning with season opener The Over Tour on Oct. 22.

KSO founder and music director James Cassidy promises the all-orchestral program of overtures (including William Tell, Poet and Peasant, Zampa Overtures) will feature a lot of audience favorites.

“For the 25th season opener, the program is really about the orchestra and old and new music,” Music Director and founder James Cassidy explains. “These are classics, a number of which the KSO has never played.

“The gentlemen won’t be wearing purple bow ties like they did back in 1992, but I may rummage about to look for mine.”  

Cassidy happily introduces the program. “These works by Rossini, Suppe, Herold, and Wagner have been employed liberally in animated classics by the masters — Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Walter Lantz, and Hanna-Barbera.” The audience will also know them from movies and TV commercials.

They’re affectionately dubbed “warhorses,” Cassidy adds, “because they are engaging, fun, hummable, evocative and spirited.

“As the opening work of many concerts and/or operas, these overtures represent the best of what is to come.”

Rossini’s William Tell Overture is the most memorable excerpt from the five-hour French grand opera. “With its opening cello quintet, violent storm, pastoral sequence and galloping finale, this overture easily lands in classical music’s all-time Top 10 list.

The Poet and Peasant Overture (1846), one of Franz von Suppe’s hits, has often (though inaccurately) been linked to the song “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”(1894). Louis Herold’s Zampa Overture (1831) is an old rouser that was featured in the title and throughout an Andy Panda cartoon.”

New works labeled overture are rarely from operas, Cassidy notes. “They perform a similar concert-opener function, but are more identified by the tunes and sounds which they emulate.”

Cassidy continues to act as guide through the program.

“Peter Boyer’s 2001 Celebration Overture offers a recurring flourish reminiscent of John Williams, with a dash of Copland sprinkled in the fresh thematic material.

The Circus Overture (1944) of William Schuman sonically paints a night at the “Big Top,” complete with barking ringmaster, trapeze acts and anxious daredevil passage work.

“Based on the famous Robert Burns poem, the Tam O’ Shanter Overture (1955) of Malcolm Arnold captures the drunk clambering onto his mare, raucous descriptive scenes and the big chase across Scotland’s Brig o’Doon.

The Over Tour, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22. Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Greaves Concert Hall, Fine Arts Center, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights.  Reserved seats $19, $27, $35, children ages 6-18 half-price. 859-431-6216 and

Over the last 24 years, what began as the Northern Kentucky Symphony became the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, playing to 700,000 people throughout the region with the people-friendly programming created by KSO music director and founder James R. Cassidy.

Here is the 25th anniversary, 2016-2017 concert schedule, at Greaves Hall unless otherwise noted. Concert times to be announced.:

The Over Tour, Oct. 22. The all-orchestral program of overtures will range from well-knowns (William Tell, Poet and Peasant, Zampa overtures) to lesser-knowns (Celebration, Circus and Tam O’Shanter overtures).

Touched by an Angel, Nov. 20, St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, 325 W. 8th St., Cincinnati. The symphony is joined by the Cathedral choir for a program that spans more than 400 years, including . 400+ year span of music relating to the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary of her impending motherhood and birth of Jesus.

Hear Giovanni Gabrieli’s work for antiphonal brass and choirs from 16th century Venice and the lofts of San Marco’s Cathedral, then Grammy nominee (2015) Kim Arnesen’s Magnificat will receive its area premiere with the KSO strings, organ and piano together with the Cathedral choir.

Extreme Makeover, Jan. 14. In the spirit of the mass of TV makeover shows, Cassidy applies the concept to the music of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, with the orchestrations by Edward Elgar, Gustav Mahler and Arnold Schoenberg respectively.

J.S. Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in c Minor for organ is translated to full orchestra; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 offer a variety of new colors and expectations; Brahms’ G minor Piano Quartet is expanded from a chamber piece to an orchestral work (including mallet percussion.)

In 1984 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart again became the brightest star in classical music via Milos Forman’s award winning film based on Peter Schaffer’s play Amadeus.

Amadeus Live, April 8. The symphony performs the score simultaneously with a screening of the award-winning film that imagines court musician Salieri’s plotting to destroy Mozart. This will be the second U.S. performance, with members of Voices of the Commonwealth and Cincinnati Camerata. Piano soloist will be Sandra Rivers.

The Battle of Broadway: Sondheim vs. Webber, May 13. Re-scheduled after being rained out on a Devou Park concert night, Broadway veterans Pamela Myers and Jessica Hendy will be featured in a program that includes Sondheim favorites from West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Company (for which Myers was a Tony nominee), Follies, A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods and Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita. Cats, Starlight Express and Phantom of the Opera.

Season subscriptions are: adults $85 -$160; children and students ages 6-18 $50-$90. A Flex-Pak subscription (set of six vouchers which can be used in any combination) $112-$208.

Single tickets range from $19 to $35 and will go on sale three weeks prior to individual concerts. Order tickets at or 859-431-6216.

-Jackie Demaline

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