Morgan Walker is living her dream. She’s the General Manager at the Paducah Symphony Orchestra- a job that allows her to stay in her hometown. Her alma mater is UK and she’s a big fan. Morgan is a busy lady, a ‘foodie’ and is learning to play golf. iMeet this multitasking dynamo who wears many hats so well!
Welcome to iMeet, Morgan. We’re glad to get to know you better.
I grew up here in Paducah and graduated from Heath High School. I went to the University of Kentucky where I studied Arts Administration and minored in music. After graduation, I moved back to Paducah for what was intended to be a short time. So much for that!
My work with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra has kept me back home for the last three and a half years. It’s really sort of serendipitous that I ended up working at the PSO. This was exactly the kind of position I had hoped to find - I just didn’t think I would find it in Paducah. Timing is everything!
Tell us about your family...
I am currently single. I’m the only child of two amazing parents - I’m lucky enough to call them some of my best friends. I love my Dad’s golden retriever like she’s my own and I have plans to adopt a dog when the time is right.
You work at the Paducah Symphony Orchestra...tell us a little about your job...
I am General Manager of the Paducah Symphony Orchestra (PSO). This means I do a bit of everything. It isn’t unusual for any employee of a nonprofit organization to “wear many hats” as they say…and that’s exactly what I do. We have small (but mighty!) staff and I am the only full-time employee.
I work closely with our Executive Director, Reece King, and Maestro Ponti to ensure the PSO’s success in everything we do. You can find me in the PSO office most of the time, and either in the lobby, in the box office, or backstage at the Carson Center on concert nights!
I won’t bore you with the minute details of my day-to-day activities. But I will say that while my job is often challenging in many ways, I absolutely love what I do. My work with the PSO has given me reassurance that I chose the perfect career.
What's a typical day in your life?
I’m generally in the office or taking meetings Monday-Friday, 9-5. What I’m working on during that time varies widely based on what the PSO has going on. Right now, we’re in the middle of our concert season and preparing for our 40th Anniversary Season.
PaBREWcah Beer Fest, our biggest fundraiser, in two and a half months, so that occupies a lot of my day. I always try to fit in a class at Barre Co. right after work. I spend as much time as I can with my friends and parents - often on weeknights post-barre, or on weekends if I’m not working or out of town!
Where have you worked before the PSO?
Before I was hired at the PSO I was working for a performing arts agency as a booking agent. It was a remote work position, so I actually started there before I graduated from college, and continued working there for about a year after I moved back to Paducah (I did both for a while).
It was great experience for me because I’ve always wanted to work in artistic planning/programming. I do a bit of that here at the PSO as we plan our concert seasons - helping to negotiate guest artist contracts and making sure we meet their needs.
I had a few internships while I was in college. My favorite was working for a concert promoter in Lexington. I learned a lot about all the moving parts of a concert. It also didn’t hurt that I got to meet some pretty amazing artists, many of which I had been a fan of for a long time.
What's the most rewarding part of your job? What's the most difficult?
The most rewarding part is and has always been seeing it all come together. Knowing that we’ve presented another successful, well-attended, high-quality classical concert is always gratifying. I also love our education programs. When I see several students at a symphony concert, it gives me hope that this great art form has a chance of surviving this century!
It’s no secret that there’s widespread concern about younger generations’ appreciation for classical music. We’re doing everything we can to make sure kids in our region are not only exposed to it but come away inspired by it. I’m particularly excited about our partnership with Carnegie Hall and the Carson Center on April 12. Participating students will get to actually play and sing with the PSO during the program, after learning the music and curriculum in their classrooms over the last few months!
I think the most challenging part of my job is pretty common for most people. I constantly feel as if there isn’t enough time in the day - like I’m racing against the clock! It feels great when things get done though, and we always manage to pull it off.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When things slow down (slightly) at the PSO, I try to travel as much as I can. I actually just returned from a quick trip to Washington DC and New York to visit friends. I scored a ticket to see the Vienna Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall! They were performing Mahler (my favorite composer) with Michael Tilson Thomas (one of my favorite conductors). I guess this is where I admit that I planned the entire trip around that concert…
I’ve also been attempting to learn how to play golf over the last few months. Well, right now I’m really just learning how to swing and actually hit the ball (or just the ground). We’ll see how this goes.
Do you have a favorite food?
There are so many - I eat way too much pasta! I love a good cheese and charcuterie board with a glass of wine. Thai curry is a favorite for sure - I make it at home a lot. I love some good Ramen - just got some in New York!
I have a major sweet tooth. All-time favorites include macarons, kouign-amann, sticky toffee pudding, and key lime anything! Eating a nice dinner out is one of my favorite things to do in general.
My local favorites are Freight House and Cynthia’s. I of course have go-to stress foods. They’re on a rotation, but right now I’m stuck on Goldfish and Haribo gummy bears. I’m not ashamed.
What do you consider your best personality trait?
I don’t love answering questions like this, but here we go. On a personal level, I make a real effort to stay in touch with the people who are important to me. While I have great friends locally, a lot of my close friends and family live far away. I don’t always succeed at this when life gets busy, but I really try. Professionally, I’ve always had a strong work ethic. Whatever it is, I’ll get it done—somehow!
Any vested interest in March Madness this year? Rooting for anyone in particular?
Definitely. I’m always rooting for my alma mater, Kentucky!
Watching any good shows you'd like to share with us?
While I anxiously await the final season of Game of Thrones, I am watching Outlander. It’s kind of funny - my Dad and I took the most amazing trip to Scotland last year, and the locals kept asking if we came to Scotland because of the show Outlander. Apparently it’s been great for tourism, but neither of us knew anything about the show at the time! Now it’s fun to watch and see the familiar scenery. It’s definitely one of those that keeps you up all night because you can’t stop watching.
I also just finished Mozart in the Jungle. I had been meaning to watch it for a long time. It doesn’t get everything technically right about the orchestra world, but if it did, it might not be as entertaining. Ha!
Ready for summer? Any vacation plans this year?
It’s hard for me to think about life after PaBREWcah right now, but I think I will enjoy the slow-down in June and July and visit some friends and family out of town.