The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra will open its 2012-13 season the same way the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony will: with a performance by legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman.
The concert, on Sept. 30 at the Singletary Center for the Arts, will be a return engagement by Perlman, whose 2011 performance with the orchestra was one of its most successful concerts ever.
"People could not get tickets to that show," UK Symphony director John Nardolillo said in reference to the sold-out concert in March of last year. "The amazing thing is that he's coming back so soon. It's rewarding to know that he thought this was something worth doing again."
The concert with Perlman will kick off a season that will end with the symphony touring China and includes a performance by Wagnerian soprano Christine Brewer.
The orchestra's trip to China in May will include performances at the National Center for the Performing Arts and Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing and visits to Shanghai University, the Shanghai Conservatory and the Central Conservatory in Beijing.
Perlman's visit is sponsored by the Henry Clay Foundation, which will award Perlman the Henry Clay Medallion while he is in Lexington. The award, according to the foundation, is to people whose lives and work have exemplified 19th-century leader Clay's ideals of "statesmanship, compromise and peaceful resolution." Previous winners of the award, which was introduced in 1993, include Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, media mogul Ted Turner and late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. This was the award that brought the high-profile visit last year of U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and former speakers Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Hastert to Lexington.
"We have never awarded it to a musical ambassador before," said Christina Bell, director of development for Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. "I cannot think of a better musical statesman in the world, and Henry Clay did play the fiddle, though certainly not as well as Itzhak Perlman."
Bell said the foundation contacted Nardolillo about a concert in conjunction with its activities marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ashland during the Civil War.
Perlman will perform the iconic violin concerto by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky in a concert that will also include Antonín Dvorák's Symphony No. 9 (From the New World). Perlman's visit will come on the heels of season-opening engagements with the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.