University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra

Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait
Performed by the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra,
John Nardolillo conducting,
Nick Clooney, narrator

In 1942, shortly after the United States entered World War Two, conductor Andre Kostelanetz commissioned Aaron Copland to compose a work to fortify and comfort people during that time of national distress.

Although Copland was at first overwhelmed by the assignment, his work has become one of the most enduring in American music. In Lincoln Portrait, Copland uses excerpts from different Lincoln speeches combined with musical quotations from American songs. People from all walks of life have narrated the work, from James Earl Jones to Al Gore.

The text begins:

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history.”

That is what he said. That is what Abraham Lincoln said.

“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility.” (Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862)

John Nardolillo
Director, UK Symphony Orchestra


Conductor John Nardolillo has appeared with more than twenty of the country's leading orchestras, including the Seattle Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Columbus Symphony, the Omaha Symphony, the Oregon Symphony and the Honolulu Symphony. This past season he also conducted concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and Carnegie Hall in New York.

In 1997 Mr. Nardolillo created a new project with folk legend Arlo Guthrie, fusing traditional American folk music with the American classical style of Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. A complete evening of orchestral settings of American folk music are performed by Mr. Nardolillo and Mr. Guthrie with orchestras around the country in concerts that also feature performances of American orchestral works by Copland, Bernstein and Gershwin. The project was performed on the television program "Evening at Pops" with the Boston Pops Orchestra, a concert that has been broadcast on PBS stations nationwide periodically since 1998. In July 2001 the project returned to the Boston Pops for the "POPS goes the Fourth!" concert, seen by a live audience of over 500,000 on Boston's Charles River Esplanade, and millions more around the country on national television.

University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra

The University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra has been an integral part of the cultural life of UK and its communities since the founding of the School of Music in 1918. Selected by audition, the Orchestra is comprised of the finest string, wind, and percussion instrumentalists from both graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky.


The Orchestra presents ten or more performances each season including symphonic concerts, operas, major works with choirs, and the Concerto Competition concert. It regularly collaborates with distinguished guest artists and the University of Kentucky music faculty. Its repertoire covers a wide range of the master works of orchestral literature from the Baroque to the present.

Most recently, the orchestra has recorded two CD’s, Music of the Horse (2005) in collaboration with Keeneland and the In Times Like These - music of Arlo Guthrie (2007).
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