Conductor Shah Sadikov, the Hays Symphony Orchestra and Benjamin Cline’s cello thrilled and delighted the large crowd who attended Saturday evening’s performance. The music, all from the late Romantic era (roughly 1870 to 1900), channeled emotions ranging from deepest melancholy to wildest excitement — just right for a Valentine’s concert. As a medieval poet once said, “Who never had sorrow of love never had joy of it either.”

A spirited performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy” began the evening by conjuring a double icon of tragic love. Its themes musically reflect the action of Shakespeare’s tragic drama, peaking with the love theme, which, in our culture, has come to stand for the joy lovers feel when they are together and the suffering they experience when apart.

“Kol Nidrei,” by the German composer Max Bruch, revealed another facet of Romanticism, the interest in exotic music from other traditions. In writing the piece, Bruch used Hebrew melodies within his own composition, which is squarely in the Western tradition. Together, Cline and the orchestra gave a breathtakingly beautiful performance of the music. Cline, a consummate artist, made the cello sing throughout its range, ably abetted by Sadikov and the orchestra. They clearly inspired each other.

Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances” from the unfinished opera “Prince Igor,” provided a truly exuberant finish for the concert. These dances, made popular by the Broadway hit “Kismet” combine the energy of Tchaikovsky with the exoticism of Bruch. The audience applauded loudly and long. And after the concert, something new and wonderful happened. Nearly everyone in the audience stayed for refreshments and conversation with the musicians. The evening had been such a success that people were reluctant to leave. A perfect Valentine’s Day event.

Ruth Firestone is a frequent contributor

to The Hays Daily News.