The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra Opens Its 26th Season With Classical Warhorses And Their Rock & Rock Offspring


The KSO’s program ALL BY THEMSELVES features two works of pianist/composer
Sergei Rachmaninoff juxtaposed with the ’70s hit songs of singer/songwriter Eric Carmen

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra opens its 26th Season on October 14th, at Greaves Concert Hall, with a unique pairing of classics and rock & roll. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s works — vast sonic canvases, with lush sonorities — made him the last of the truly Romantic composers. Sixty years later, such romanticism was not lost on young rock & roll singer/songwriter Eric Carmen. He borrowed themes from Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony and Second Piano Concerto respectively to write the mid-70’s hit songs “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again” and “All By Myself.”

Rachmaninoff, in addition to being a world-renowned pianist, wrote four piano concerti and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 3 symphonies, 4 assorted orchestra works and 3 one-act operas, plus songs and piano pieces. Rachmaninoff emigrated to the United States in 1918 and was welcomed with offers from piano manufacturers, record companies and orchestras including the Boston and Cincinnati Symphonies. He began concert tours playing his own concerti and recitals of other composers’ music. The Second Piano Concerto, his most famous work, will be performed by award-winning and acclaimed pianist Soyeon Kate Lee, currently an artist/faculty member at University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.

As a youth, Carmen regularly attended rehearsals of the Cleveland Orchestra with his aunt, who was a violist in the orchestra. His exposure to the classics impacted his songwriting later in life, as he borrowed tunes from both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. After years as lead singer and songwriter for the Raspberries (“Go All the Way,” “I Wanna Be with You”), Carmen set off on a solo career in 1975 finding immediate success with his Rachmaninoff-inspired songs. Eric continued to write and perform hits into the 80s (“Hungry Eyes,” “Make Me Lose Control”). Living in his hometown Cleveland, Carmen occasionally writes, but no longer performs. Broadway veteran singer and actor (NKU alum), Aaron LaVigne will belt out Carmen’s pop ballads accompanied by the KSO.

“The KSO’s thematic programming philosophy would normally steer us away from such large traditional works, but adding Eric’s songs from the 1970s, and showing the relationship of the classical works to the pop songs they inspired, made this all-Rachmaninoff pairing more universally relevant to our audience,” remarked Music Director James Cassidy. “I have spoken to Mr. Carmen about the program, but don’t know whether he will make a cameo.”

The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra fills Greaves Concert Hall with Rachmaninoff and Carmen at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, October 14 at NKU, Highland Heights, KY. Reserved seating tickets are $19, $27, $35 (children ages 6-18 are 50% off) and are available online at, by phone (859) 431-6216, or at the door.

(Classical Warhorses and their Rock & Roll Offspring)

7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 14, 2017
Greaves Concert Hall, NKU

Sergei Rachmaninoff – Symphony No. 2 in E minor
Eric Carmen – “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again”


Carmen – “All By Myself”
Aaron LaVigne, vocal

Rachmaninoff – Piano Concerto in C minor
Soyeon Kate Lee, piano

First prize winner of the 2010 Naumburg International Piano Competition and the 2004 Concert Artist Guild International Competition, Korean-American pianist Soyeon Kate Lee has been lauded by the New York Times as a pianist with “a huge, richly varied sound, a lively imagination and a firm sense of style,” and by the Washington Post for her “stunning command of the keyboard.” She has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in the Dominican Republic, Orquesta de Valencia, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Juilliard Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Naples Philharmonic. In recent seasons, she has given recitals at New York’s Zankel, Alice Tully, and Merkin halls, Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, Madrid’s National Auditorium, and San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre.

A Naxos recording artist, she records a double CD of Scriabin piano works this season following the Scarlatti and Liszt albums released earlier. A second prize and Mozart Prize winner of the Cleveland International Piano Competition and a laureate of the Santander International Piano Competition in Spain, she has worked extensively with Richard Goode, Robert McDonald, Ursula Oppens, and Jerome Lowenthal. Ms. Lee is the co-founder and artistic director of Music by the Glass, a concert series dedicated to bringing together young professionals in New York City. A Yamaha Artist, Ms. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, and lives in Cincinnati with her husband, pianist Ran Dank, and their one-year-old son, Noah.

If Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Paul McCartney, The Avett Brothers, and Jeff Buckley had a baby, Aaron LaVigne would be that baby. Singer / Songwriter / Actor based out of New York City, Aaron’s favorite credits include Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, both the International Tour & Off-Broadway revival of the hit musical RENT, Jesus Christ Superstar, Forever Plaid, Civil War, and tick, tick… BOOM! His latest studio EP, Call Your Mom, is now available on iTunes as well as his previous album, The DownTown Crowd. Aaron is making his second appearance with the KSO since his debut in 2005 in “We the People,” a theatrical program of music from and about America’s revolution in Devou Park.

About the KSO:
For 25 years the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra has taken the “phony” out of symphony by eliminating traditional barriers and presenting engaging, live, thematic concerts that enrich, educate and entertain the residents of Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. The KSO performs three series of concerts annually throughout Northern Kentucky.


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