Adam Golka almost made us late for The Breakfast Club. The piano virtuoso was practically forced to play an encore by Maestro Lucas Richman. My wife and I attended last night’s performance by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. The second half of the concert was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Guest artist Golka tore the roof off the place with his performance. He received an immediate standing ovation and while the applause was still loud and strong, Richman literally pushed the 22-year-old back to the piano bench. I’ve been to the symphony dozens of times and had not seen this happen before. Golka launched into an opus by Schubert as the orchestra members watched silently.
Between pieces in the first half of the show, the Maestro greeted the audience and thanked the sponsors as usual. He also got in a plug for his participation in Star 102.1’s Dancing with the Knoxville Stars. I found it funny when he urged the symphony audience to go to the radio station’s website, where they can find the link to donate in his name. I assumed that most of the crowd had no idea what he was talking about but I may have been wrong.
At intermission, web-connected cell phones were glowing and the Tennessee Theatre was buzzing with news of the Tennessee Vols. Their Sweet Sixteen game against Ohio State was nearing its conclusion. I heard one man say that he had smuggled in a radio with an earphone to listen to the game. Local PR executive Alan Carmichael let me look over his shoulder as he checked Twitter on his smartphone. That’s how I learned that the Vols won just before intermission ended. The news spread to the audience as the musicians were tuning up for the Rachmaninoff concerto and a cheer erupted. I sent Carmichael and his wife, Cynthia Moxley, a message suggesting that the orchestra should launch into “Rocky Top.”
Golka’s encore meant that my wife and I didn’t get to the Valarium until after 10:30. I thought we had missed the start of The Breakfast Club show but their opening act was still on its last song when we arrived. The popular ’80s cover band hit the stage a short while later. My wife and I figured that they probably save all the best songs for last. Except for “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” I didn’t hear any of my favorites during the first set, although the other fans seemed more than ready to Wang Chung last night.