University of Kentucky President Lee Todd speaks at the 2007 spring commencement ceremony. Copyrighted Herald-Leader/Kentucky.com photo by Matt Goins.
University of Kentucky President Lee Todd has recently praised the School of Music as being, "On fire." For a story previewing this weekend's Holiday Collage concert presented by numerous soloists and ensembles at the school, we asked Todd to expand on his remarks. Here are his responses to several questions we submitted via e-mail:
Copious Notes: What are the most impressive things happening in the School of Music, from your perspective?
Lee Todd: There are a number of impressive things happening in the School of Music -- and the entire College of Fine Arts, for that matter -- that prompted me to talk about it 'being on fire.' In addition to the incredible gift recently made to the opera program, UK Opera Theatre's first opera production of the year was, as you know, the second portion of a world premiere of Thomas Pasatieri's new opera, The Hotel Casablanca. The unique aspect of this production was that UK is home to both the set and costumes, so opera companies wanting to present this opera in the future will be able to get the set and costumes from us.
Since 1995, in fact, the School of Music has produced at least 10 Metropolitan Opera winners at the district level, four at the regional level, and one -- Gregory Turay -- at the national level. Recently, at the district level, UK Opera took three of the four finalist positions.
You have extensively covered the work of our symphony orchestra. In Times Like These was recorded with Arlo Guthrie and released in July. It has received positive reviews and mentions, including publications such as The Washington Post. UKSO joined Guthrie, at his invitation, on the Carnegie Hall stage this past weekend, where he plays annually.
Our wind ensemble is touring China in 2008 and take part in events in honor of the upcoming Olympic Games. Our Jazz Ensemble was the only collegiate one selected to perform at the upcoming international conference, Midwest Clinic. And our UK Percussion Ensemble won its collegiate competition and will perform at an upcoming international conference. No other colleges that we know of have won the collegiate competition three times in a row as our ensemble has done.
That, of course, is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good sense of the high level of accomplishment and breadth and depth that exists.