By Cameron Rasmusson
For Leon Atkinson, his upcoming Valentine’s Day performance at the Panida Theater feels a little like coming home.
After several years focusing his performances on larger venues like Spokane, the classical guitar master, host of NPR’s Guitar Hour and local resident returns to Sandpoint for the “Guitar, Chocolate and a Rose” performance at the Panida Theater.
Holiday performances used to be a staple for Atkinson, most notably his Christmas shows co-organized by Jim Lippi. When Lippi passed away, Atkinson said those shows went by the wayside for a time. He’s now excited to continue that tradition with his Valentine’s Day Panida Theater performance, a show that should have much in common with his holiday-season concerts.
“I think whether it’s Christmastime or Valentine’s, people are really sharing the emotion of love … and so my concert will be focused around the theme of love,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson has selected a diverse array of music that communicates that theme, whether it be love of the guitar, love of music or a love for friends and family members. Among the many pieces selected for the performance are the theme from “Romeo and Juliet” by Nino Rota and music from the movie “Love Story.”
The theme of love runs even truer for Atkinson at this concert given that his family will be attending. His daughter, son-in-law and their newborn baby are coming from California to attend the performance.
As one might expect, the concert is ideal for couples. Those who wish will be able to pick up a rose or chocolate truffles, and a no-host wine bar will be available. The show will benefit the Panida Theater, so attendees can share both their love for each other and their love for their local historic theater.
It promises to be a great night for Atkinson, whose involvement in local arts events goes back decades. And of course, he’s looking forward to sharing his love of the guitar with the community. Among Atkinson’s accomplishments are starting the Classical Guitar Guild, performing with the Spokane Symphony and starting the Guitar Departments at Whitworth College, Spokane Falls Community College and North Idaho College. He also heads the Guitar Department at Gonzaga University.
“It’ll be wonderful to be sitting on stage at the Panida again and playing to an audience in Sandpoint,” Atkinson said.
“Guitar, Chocolate and a Rose” begins 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at the Panida Theater. Tickets are $24 for couples or $15 for singles and available at Eichardt’s, Eve’s Leaves, Skal Tap Room, at the door and online at www.panida.org.