I Feel the Symphony!

April 24, 2018



It was Sunday afternoon, April 22, 2018. My aging body was determined to take me up those marble steps to the balcony as my new shoes wanted to slip and slide taking me for a ride I was not prepared to take. Thankfully I managed to tame those shoes. I am happy to report that I made it safely up and down that challenge with no injuries. (little victories are a big deal when you are in your seventies!).


It always feels like stepping into history each time I walk up that ramp in the entrance area and peek into the plush auditorium that is The Mobile Saenger Theatre. Just being there, breathing-in the elegance and beauty makes you feel special. I become a small child filled with awe as I look up, then down, then all around me at this magical place.


The Mobile Saenger Theatre was constructed in January of 1927, a couple of years before my parents were born, yet it has held onto its beauty with a few face lifts along the way. It is a European-style historic landmark that is treasured by those who attend an enormous variety of events inside these walls. The entertainment it offers our community today is of extraordinary caliber. The management here includes a marvelous professional, ethical genius that works tirelessly to keep it alive and vibrant. Chris Penton is working full time as manager of this facility (as well as the Mobile civic center and civic theater) and he is doing a tremendous service to the people of Mobile. The diligence Chris shows in getting good quality entertainment and the manner that he uses in the process, screams hallelujah when you look at the results of his labor.


Sunday I, along with my podcast team Pat French and Dotty Armour attended the final show of the MSO (Mobile Symphony Orchestra) for the season. It was everything we hoped it would be. Every note of music that was played carried my heart beat to another level. This orchestra was a real treat to watch and hear. We teared up at times and we stood with everyone else in ovations of respect for these marvelous musicians who were sharing their talent to brighten our day on a Sunday afternoon.  This season marked 20 years of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. I am proud to have a community that honors these great people who play this fabulously perfect music, much of which was written nearly 300 years ago. 


We heard pieces written by these three guys you may have heard about, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Dmitri Shostakovich. We were able to enjoy so much masterful music created by these musicians many years ago. I feel certain they never dreamed that in 2018 there would be people still weeping, still being lifted up and still carrying their music home with them in their hearts and heads. To honor them is to honor life’s journey. 


 I learned the only opera ever written by Beethoven  was “Fidelio” (originally titled Leonore). It is the story of a woman whose love was so deep that she risk her life to rescue her husband. The feelings this lady felt were conveyed in the music he wrote and we had the honor of hearing and feeling it. Beethoven's music for this opera is heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. We could envision the struggles of Leonore (the wife) as she planned and carried out the very risky and daring act of breaking her husband out of his unjustified imprisonment. The fear, the bravely and the deep and abiding love was felt by me as I heard the music telling her story.


Oh how I enjoyed this story told in the notes of music hundreds of years ago, masterfully arranged and written by Mr. Beeethoven.


Somehow we were lucky enough to come on the right day. It was a chance of a lifetime to see a world famous pianist play for the very first time with the Mobile Symphony. He was fabulous, his fingers were nimble and perfect…even though he is 94 years old. Yes, we were fortunate to be present for the performance of Menahem Pressler on piano. He was born in Magdeburg, Germany in 1923, he fled to Israel from Nazi Germany in 1939. Mr. Pressler has played in the finest theaters and arenas the world has to offer. He has received the highest honors offered to a pianist. It is a special gift to me that I was able to hear him, watch him and see him bow to the ovations we gave him. I know he enjoyed himself because he left (with assistance) twice and returned for encores. He was rejuvenated by our roars and applause. I am sure he has heard plenty of those things before…but this was a Mobile, southern welcome he could not resist.

For me, he was the highlight of my day. If he could read this I would love to tell him “Thank You, Mr. Pressler for lifting my spirits and brightening my world on Sunday, April 22, 2018!”


There was so much more magic I felt at this show but I wouldn’t want to bore you any longer with the details. I say if you haven’t been to the symphony, go. If you have been, go again. It is good for your soul and it has a way of telling you “You are still alive, go out there and do something with this life!”


I would love to the thank the people who guided us to our seat, welcomed us to the theatre and thanked us for coming as we left. It felt like you were glad to see me!

I want to thank all of those who put this performance together for us to enjoy.

Thank you,

Juanita Smith

Music Mom




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