As I Like It!






AS I LIKE IT Mar 7 Edited-A-1



I love symphony music, and I’m fortunate to live in an area rich with orchestras. LaGrange, Georgia is one of the smallest towns in the world to sponsor a fully funded symphony. Then there are orchestras in Columbus, Georgia, Montgomery and Birmingham, Alabama, and of course, the world class Atlanta Symphony, just an hour and a half away.

Here in Opelika, our local arts association usually has at least one major touring orchestra on their subscription schedule, and this year it was the Jerusalem Symphony. The JSO is rich in professional artists, and is known for its ability to interpret the most difficult composers. Last Saturday, the JSO performed at Opelika High School’s acoustically perfect Center for the Performing Arts.

The Orchestra’s conductor is the veteran Dimitri Yablonsky, who is an accomplished cellist, as well as a composer of note. The headliner for the evening was Danielle Akta, a thirteen year old cellist. Yablonsky’s intimate knowledge of the instrument as well as Saint Saen’s Concert for Cello, the orchestra provided the perfect background to compliment the young prodigy’s talent.

After a brief intermission to move the Steinway Grand into position, Fahard Badalbeyli literally bounced onto the stage, and with the help of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto #1, attempted to destroy the instrument. Badalbeyli is the Azerbaijani equivalent of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Between the powerful and relentless pounding of the Steinway, and Prokofiev’s ferociously and dissonant composition, windows rattled as far away as Locahapoka. When it was all over, the pianist, the orchestra, and the audience were exhausted. Great Balls of Fire sounds like a love ballad.

Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #2, which is dissonant and clashing in its own right, was the finale for the evening, but paled in comparison to Badalbeyli and Prokofiev. Did I enjoy the evening? Well, we didn’t leave humming, that’s for sure, but I have to admit that the orchestra, the featured artists, and Yablonsky’s masterful conducting were worth the assault on my ear drums. Besides, I cut my hearing aid off and didn’t miss a note.


Orchestra image is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to

Categories: As I Like It!

6 replies »

  1. Glad you enjoyed. I find Rachmaninoff very melodic and dissonant is not the first word I think of. But I understand that it’s not hymn book harmony. Keep writing.

  2. Good morning, Tom. I’m glad to hear the area has blossomed this well. Believe me, when I was at Auburn,

    the idea of Opelika having a symphony orchestra would have been like D’lo developing a national think tank.

    I’m coming back to Lake Martin in Alabama in April for a informal fraternity re-union, while there’s still enough

    of us to have a party! I’ll yell across the lake to you.


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