One of the casualties of the pandemic is the cancellation of the 59th season of the Fine Arts Association of Southeastern Kentucky’s concert series. Betty Hamilton, who passed away in 2011 at 80 years of age, was the driving force behind the organization which she founded in 1962.
She and her surgeon husband, Dr. Harry Hamilton, had moved to Corbin and she was quoted in the Louisville Courier-Journal as saying, “All my life I had lived in cities where concerts were taken for granted. I didn’t want my children to grow up without the same advantages.” And because of her they didn’t!
Because of her dedication to the cause and the many volunteers that have been involved, people of this area have enjoyed 58 seasons of outstanding programs. And to honor Mrs. Hamilton the auditorium at Corbin High School was named the “Betty Hamilton Center for Performing Arts.”
People like Betty Comer, who for the past 18 years has been the Program Chair and worked with Fine Arts for over 50 years, Anne Hoskins, Nannie Hays, Gayle Majors, Sharon Cox, Frances Ball, Lois Wortman, Jo Anne Thomas, Tom Stone, Trent Knuckles and the many others who have worked hard to keep this valuable asset to this area alive are to be commended. Also, the many contributors who have financially supported it are to be commended.
When I was a kid I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, The Mills Brothers, Benny Goodman and others on the radio. During my college days I played classical music on the University of Kentucky’s radio station. In my first job as a DJ in 1961 at WCTT radio station I played standards on my morning show and rock in the afternoon.
While Mrs. Hamilton was forming the Fine Arts Association, I was playing music five hours a day on the radio. I was aware of her efforts then, but I didn’t attend the concerts until many years later. That is when I discovered how much I had missed.
As I look back at the schedule of performers throughout the years I wish I had joined earlier. In my younger life the term “Fine Arts” didn’t resonate with me.
Other than rap, hip hop, opera, and some country music, I like most music. I spent part of the weekend listening and watching André Rieu on You Tube.
Nothing can elevate your mood better than good music. I have experienced that exhilaration many times in recent years after attending one of the Fine Arts concert series, something I highly recommend for you when the series resumes next year.
Some of my most enjoyable concerts involved the Karkowska sisters. They started performing in the concert series a little over 20 years ago. Kasha played the piano and Anna played the violin. They performed several times and even took their muscial talents to area schools. Sadly, Anna passed away not long ago.
Not only does it take a lot of time and effort by the volunteers of Fine Arts, it takes a great amount of money to bring the outstanding talent to our area.
Many businesses have been generous in supporting the concert series. It will take extra effort on the part of the business community, as well as the patrons who buy memberships and the volunteers who do the work to have a 59th season next year.
The Fine Arts Association is something we never want to lose. It had to pause this year because of the cononavirus, but with the community’s help it can come back stronger than ever next year.