Thanks to its arts and entertainment, the Lehigh Valley has become a major cultural center.

A major component of that allure is the Allentown Symphony Association, as members of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce learned on Tuesday.

Sheila Evans, executive director, Allentown Symphony Association, spoke of the many entertainment opportunities scheduled for the historic venue.

Along with traditional concerts by the Allentown Symphony, Evans said there is an exciting jazz cabaret series in the third floor of the Rodale Community Room, a 3,300-square-feet multipurpose community room with the capacity for 170 people seating and 200 standing.

Also available is a series of magnificent live performances from the METropolitan Opera in New York City, which Evans said have been transmitted in wide screen and high definition format.

She said the performances have been hailed by many as superior to seeing the performance live at The Met!

"I'm really excited about the potential we have to raise money," Evans said. "I'm all about how do you partner, and bringing everyone together."

Evans said the Allentown Symphony Association also provides educational programming for Lehigh Valley students.

During the 2008-09 school year alone, 14,130 LV students were influenced by music programs from the Allentown Symphony Association, she said.

Under the Baton of Diane Wittry, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra is the Lehigh Valley's only professional symphony orchestra, Evans said.

Established in 1950, it has five classical concerts per season plus Pops plus family/school, features musicians from New York, Philadelphia, and beyond, and is the smallest orchestra in the USA to own its own hall, she said.

The Symphony Hall also stages events, such as weddings, family occasions, corporate entertaining, and club meetings, and is open for rentals.

Its kick-off 60th anniversary will be held Feb. 6 at the Holiday Inn in Fogelsville.

Evans said her goal is to attract as many visitors to the Allentown Symphony Association as possible.

"You go once, and you want to come back here," she said. "It's a gorgeous venue."

Chamber president Peter Kern, a huge proponent of the arts, encouraged his fellow chamber members to attend.

"I hope you'll all take advantage of the opportunities," Kern said.

At the conclusion of the luncheon, chamber members Anne Davis-Shupp and Peter Turko received free tickets to attend the Allentown Symphony by way of a drawing.

Tickets for general admission seating are $22 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, and $15 for students.