Orchestra Kentucky is gearing up for its 20th season.
The season begins at 7:30 p.m. July 27 at the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center with “A Night at Woodstock,” a concert in celebration of Woodstock’s 50th anniversary, and will include a total of 10 shows paying tribute to a range of artists and musical aesthetics such as Nat King Cole, Rodgers & Hammerstein and Memphis soul music.
With the season only three weeks away, Orchestra Kentucky Music Director Jeff Reed said he’s excited to celebrate 20 seasons of providing the region with music.
“It’s phenomenal,” he said of the orchestra’s longevity. “Starting a new arts organization is not an easy task. In fact, many people thought we wouldn’t make it past the first few years.”
Orchestra Kentucky has come a long way since its first financially shaky year, becoming the third-largest orchestra in Kentucky – behind the Louisville Orchestra and the Lexington Philharmonic, which serve much larger cities, Reed said.
He attributed Orchestra Kentucky’s success to the community’s support through the years, which stems, Reed said, from the programming.
“I think it’s a testament to our programming philosophy,” he said.
From the beginning, Orchestra Kentucky has been dedicated to performing concerts that showcase better-known pieces from musical theater and the classical canon, or blending classical music with more contemporary fare.
This, Reed said, stands in contrast with many other orchestras that focus mainly on classical music while excluding shows with a broader appeal or a contemporary edge.
“The majority of what they do is classical music that’s not necessarily audience-friendly,” he said.
Reed said he was interested in a show paying tribute to Woodstock because of the range of big-name artists from the 1960s whose material the orchestra can play with Jeans ’n Classics, a touring band from Canada, and the festival’s centrality in the 1960s counterculture.
“It’s become one of the most important events in rock history,” he said.
Tickets for all the concerts of the upcoming season may be purchased at orchestrakentucky.com, where a full schedule of upcoming concerts can be found, or at theskypac.com. Additionally, Reed said Orchestra Kentucky subscriptions are still available.
Reed said he’s particularly excited about “The Music Man and More,” a show scheduled for Aug. 17 that will feature songs from “The Music Man” and other pieces that were popular in 1912, when the musical takes place.
The show will also feature Bronson Murphy, a Bowling Green native who played the title character in “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway, as a guest performer.
Reed also called attention to the showcase of music by American film composer John Williams, which will close out the season on May 16.
“There’s nothing better than standing on stage conducting the ‘Star Wars’ music,” he said.
Reed said he wanted to pay tribute to Williams for the role he’s played in inspiring countless younger orchestra performers and the popularity of his film scores.
“He’s responsible for some of the greatest music written for orchestra of the 20th century,” he said.