Members of the community came out to celebrate the importance of the arts during the kickoff of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra's 2019-2020 season Wednesday.
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The annual patron appreciation luncheon was held at Citizens National Bank's downtown banking center in Meridian.
The season, which starts Saturday, includes returning favorites such as the Texas Tenors, Peppermint Pops, as well as classical shows and choral performances.
The season wraps up on May 9, 2020 with "Beethoven & Blue Jeans." The concerts are held at The MSU Riley Center.
Maestro Peter Rubardt, who is starting his seventh season with the MSO, said that without the community's support, the symphony would not exist.
"The Meridian Symphony has so many different channels to the community," he said. "We would not be able to do it without you all in this room."
One highlight of the season will be the Link-Up program, which involves local students playing their recorders along with the orchestra.
"It's quite a musical experience for them, because many have not seen the Riley Center. They come and it's a memorable event," Rubardt said.
Kristen Johnson Gunn returned to Meridian last year to become a choral director for the orchestra. She noted the value of the music to local children.
"For them to have that at an early age is just so important, not only to inspire future people in this profession, but to continue to increase the quality of life and education," she said.
Archie McDonnell, CEO of Citizens National Bank, said that having a symphony in Meridian plays a big part in economic development and improves the quality of life.
But the symphony is about more than just musical performances, McDonnell said.
It also helps to expose children to music at an early age while promoting arts to the community.
"At the end of the day, we just want the community to be a good place to live, work and play,” he said.