CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)



When opportunity knocks, some people just don’t answer. Tonight marks probably one of the most historical events, since the birth of Elvis, for Tupelo and many people will be sitting back in their LA-Z-BOYS watching “Frazier” or “Home Improvement,” missing out on the spectacular affair.

If you have not heard, the Russians are coming. Decked in their firmly pressed tuxedos with their polished instruments in hand, the 85-member St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra will be uttering their thundering, triumphant melodies throughout the Tupelo Coliseum to what looks to be a sparse audience. Nearly 4,500 seats out of the 9,000 capacity coliseum have been reserved, and on Monday, Betty Baxter, marketing director for the Tupelo Coliseum, stressed that there were still “good seats available.”

So what is so grandiose about this Russian orchestra coming to Tupelo? For starters it’s an honor for Tupelo. T-town is one of eight locations in the state selected for the tour. Tupelo was chosen to play a host to the event because of its renowned semi-new coliseum and its reputation for supporting the arts.

“We all know without arts and culture resources, the growth of Tupelo would not enjoy the success if has achieved,” said Jack Kyle, who is credited with arranging the tour. Kyle serves as executive director of the “Palaces of St. Petersburg: Russian Imperial Style” exhibition, which the orchestra tour is complementing.

The exhibit, which opens Friday and runs through Aug. 31 at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion in Jackson, is tagged as “the preeminent cultural event in the Southeast for 1996” and is listed as one of the top 100 events for North America in 1996 by the American Bus Association. The exhibit represents the largest exhibition ever presented from Russian museums outside of Russia and the largest Russian exhibition ever presented in the United States. Kyle organized the tour in an effort to share the Russian culture and education statewide. In other words, this tour didn’t have to happen.

Another reason this event is so significant is because, like the exhibition, the tour is exclusive to the state. The 616 objects featured in the exhibit are coming to Jackson for a six-month stay, then they are going straight home.

The St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra started its eight-city trek last Wednesday, will tour until March 6 and then return home, not even giving another state a “toot” except for airport layovers in between here and Russia.

Numerous articles have come out announcing and supporting the event, but a lot of tickets remain. So I guess I will try David Letterman’s approach and simply spell out the Top 10 reasons you should go the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra concert tonight.

10. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a world-class orchestra.

9. To uphold Tupelo’s reputation for supporting the arts.

8. Keep up friendly relations with the former Cold War opposition. (A bad crowd showing might look like we still hold a grudge.)

7. It’s a nice break from “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men and Wade Hayes’, “What I Meant to Say” that frequent the air waves.

6. Another ticket stub to put in the scrapbook.

5. There’s not much entertainment in watching the NBA Looks like “Da Bulls” have it.

4. It’s a great chance to get that last wear out of your winter evening apparel.

3. “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “E.R.” don’t come on till Thursday.

2. They ran out Reba out for the event, so it’s got to be good.

1. It’s a lot cheaper than going to Russia.

Terri Tabor is a staff reporter for the Daily Journal.

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