One of the really great things about being in a small city with a mid-size comprehensive university is that there's a lot of free or cheap cultural stuff available. Last night, for example, I went to a recital by three music faculty folks.
Now, if you regularly go to one of the big, important symphonies around, you'll be unimpressed. But that's okay.
For the rest of us: while our faculty might not be among the top 100 musicians in the country on their instruments, they're pretty darned good. They're way better than my ear or understanding, for sure.
And the concerts are free.
That means if they're listing some really hard modern piece, I might just go and listen and get something out of it. But I wouldn't spend $50 for tickets, probably, because I'd think that there's a chance I wouldn't enjoy it. Here, if I don't enjoy something, well, it's an hour or so of time, and that's all.
There's also the benefit that I know the musicians, at least a little. So I get the fun of hearing people I know, people who are really good at what they do, performing in a small concert hall, and then I get a hug after, and get to chat about how much I enjoyed the piece, or I can ask why they chose this piece, or how it fits with their other interests.
Of course, anyone in the community or area can come, not just faculty folks, so it's not quite a job perq. But it's a small city with a university perq, I guess. I have a sense that a lot of people think about taking advantage of going to see concerts and art and such, but they never quite get around to it. It's like when I went to Japan and some of the other visiting teachers there didn't quite get around to going to see some of the local attractions (museums, temples, etc).
Last night was good. If you're in a community like mine, make sure you go to a concert.
And there was a bonus: one of the musicians looks like he should practically be in one of those old Danny Kaye skits where he plays the crazed musician from eastern Europe with the wild hair and such. It's almost funny, until you hear him play, and then it's just rapturous.