Saturday, September 7, 2013, was the 2013-14 season opener of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra. I went to Paducah, Kentucky, for the concert and loved it. Here are a few reasons why:
- I was first introduced to the orchestra in May, when they performed outdoors at the Paducah Lowertown Arts and Music Festival, for free. I love free!
- Conductor/Artistic Director Raffaele Ponti brings passion to the podium. “This orchestra is on fire!” he told an audience that responded with enthusiastic whistles, hoots and applause.
- Guest artist Ilya Kaler thrilled the crowd with his masterful performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. His sweet, pure notes were heard by a breathless, admiring audience, for whom he even played an encore.
The program began with the Ritual Fire Dance from De Falla’s El Amor Brujo. After Kaler’s performance, there was a twenty-minute intermission, then Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.
- The Paducah Symphony Orchestra appears at the Carson Center in Paducah, a great concert venue. We sat in the second balcony, where the sound was superb. We could see the entire orchestra, too.
Besides being spacious and attractive, the Carson Center has some of the best Ladies’ Rooms I’ve been in. This is so important! There were twenty-five or thirty stalls in the one I used on the first balcony, and although the room was full of women at intermission, no one was waiting. Bravo!
Besides that, the lighting in the restroom and adjacent lounge was soft and kind-not shockingly fluorescent.
- The Paducah Symphony is affordable. Our seats were $16 each. The most expensive tickets are $44. And season tickets (seven concerts) for first-time buyers are being sold at 50% of the usual cost. So, a season ticket for the second balcony will be $59 rather than $118. Use the code NEW. That is a deal!
- Downtown Paducah, Kentucky, is easy to get to from where I live in Southern Illinois, a pleasant drive of an hour and twenty minutes. Parking is not a problem; traffic isn’t either.
And although downtown Paducah has many great restaurants in its historic district and elsewhere-most in walking distance to the Carson Center-we are frugal culture enthusiasts (second balcony, remember?). We took a picnic to the riverfront, also in walking distance, and watched the Ohio River and the other people there as we ate. It was really a perfect beginning to an exciting night at the Paducah Symphony Orchestra. Can you understand why I love it?