The big blue tour buses sat waiting at Blue Grass Airport with a black SUV in front, looking as if it was waiting for a head of state.
And in classical music terms, it was, sort of.
Gustavo Dudamel, a veritable crown prince of classical music, was coming with the king of orchestras, the Vienna Philharmonic.
The conductor and orchestra are set to give a rare mid-American concert Monday night at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College in Danville. A limited number of tickets were still available at 1-877-448-7460.
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The booking is enough of a rarity that The Los Angeles Times wrote a story asking what Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was doing playing in a small Kentucky town.
The answer was the lure of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and the international crowd it attracts, and the persistence of director of programs and public relations Debra Hoskins.
"We play small towns, like we played a small town in Denmark last month," said Jeremy Wilson, a native of McMinnville, Tenn., and currently the only American member of the orchestra.
"In so much as this is a small town in the middle of America, it's very odd because when they do come to America, the usually gravitate to L.A., Chicago, New York. I think I heard of a concert in Houston, maybe one, but it's always major urban areas."
Landing in Kentucky, the orchestra got a taste of the Southern hospitality it had missed out on by sticking to the Gothams of America.
After arriving at Blue Grass Airport, the orchestra was whisked to the Games at the Kentucky Horse Park, where it was greeted by exuberant Alltech founder and chief executive Pearse Lyons, and serenaded by the Haitian Harmony Children's Choir and Irish tenor Ronan Tynan.
Then the musicians rode to Gainesway Farm for a tasting of Graham Beck Wine amidst emerging fall colors.
The festivities ended with a trip to Taylor Made Farm and a steak dinner accompanied by bluegrass music. A Vienna Philharmonic violinist even jumped in with the combo for a few numbers.
"This is very special," violist Mario Karwan said. "It was very nice to see these receptions and all these friendly people being so kind to us."
Speaking through translator Wilson, tuba player Christoph Gigler said, "Usually we just land and go to the concert hall and go to the hotel and that's it. This is really something special."
The orchestra sometimes gets feted by fans in other countries but usually not at the level of the Norton Center's reception. Norton Center director Steven A. Hoffman said the occasion was special enough that they wanted to make sure the conductor and orchestra got a good taste of the Bluegrass, starting with beer.
But there was a hitch. As the orchestra's plane approached the airport, organizers from the Norton Center realized they had not acquired bottle openers, which were necessary for the supply of Kentucky Ale they were providing the musicians.
An enterprising student hit the airport gift shop, snapping up nearly $200 worth of souvenir bottle openers.
It was a rare glitch in otherwise well-laid plans that had students and Centre officials scrambling to prepare for the orchestra's arrival. They loaded black and white gift bags in a caravan of cars and minivans that traveled from Danville to the airport to pick up the musicians.
From there, students and staff massed out over the Central Kentucky area to accommodate the musicians, even those who elected to bypass the festivities and go to Danville.