I am writing this letter to bring attention to a great musical venue as close as Shafter. I originally heard the Shafter Symphony conducted by Stephen Penner at an orchestral performance in June 2012 at Shafter High School. What a treat, for both Shafter and Bakersfield.

The written program was educational, insightful and humorous -- just the right touch to welcome the (perhaps) neophyte classical music listener to the experience.

The music was great and seeing it conducted in tails was a treat! (Tails! In Shafter!) The only negative was the size of the audience, far too many empty seats. I felt so many missed out on a wonderful experience.

I next encountered Penner conducting the Shafter Community Band at Shafter's annual Fourth of July celebration, a far more casual event, with audience and band members alike in shorts and flip-flops. The entertainment factor and musical response was the same as previously; although not as "highbrow," it was every bit as enjoyable, with traditional music and marches being played.

We all have an opportunity to experience the Shafter Symphony again (or for the first time), at the Shafter COLOURS festival the last weekend in February. There are many activities throughout the weekend, ending with Penner conducting the symphony Sunday, Feb. 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, just Google "Shafter, CA, COLOURS."

I'm planning on making the drive and I hope this time there aren't any empty seats. Music lovers unite! See you there.

Leslie Bloomquist