Lake Oconee News – October 6, 2023

The Oconee Performing Arts Society (OPAS) presented “Country Hits: The Songs of Nashville” Sept. 29 at Greensboro’s historic Festival Hall, marking the beginning
of the organization’s 16th season. “Country Hits: The Songs of Nashville” blended the unique sounds of Nashville artists and songwriters with the talents of the Augusta Symphony, featuring conductor S.C. Toe, Nashville’s Emily West, and Georgia native Rick Brantley.

West and Brantley brought a genuine slice of Nashville to the stage, effortlessly delivering heartfelt renditions of familiar country classics. Their performances resonated deeply with the audience, creating a musical and emotional connection to this genre of music, rarely presented with a symphonic sound.
West, a second-place finisher on TV’s “America’s Got Talent,” put on a stun- ning display of vocal fireworks while capturing the heartache and life experience of a true country music talent.

Meanwhile, the Augusta Symphony provided a lush musical backdrop that elevated the entire experience. Their connection with the guest artists showcased the symphony’s versatility and ability to adapt to different musical genres. Grammy winner Jeff Tyzik wrote the tasteful orchestral arrangements that rose to great heights with the first act closer, Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

Each song selection was impeccable, featuring a diverse range of country hits that spanned genera- tions, leaving no fan of the genre disappointed. From toe-tapping, up-tempo tunes to heartfelt ballads, the crowd was treated to songs by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Reba McEn- tire, Martina McBride and more. Tyzik lent great restraint to his orchestration, letting the songs speak for themselves while featuring the symphony. The violin section, in particular, sounded pure and clear in the hall.

OPAS provides complimentary tickets to local students, and it was refreshing to see several young faces in the theater enjoying the sounds of a symphony, some for the first time. Next for OPAS at Festival Hall is Broadway Sings Nov. 17, with tickets starting at $55, followed by the annual Christmas-themed Fa-La-La Dec. 15, with tickets $75 and $95, all available for purchase online at OPAS also helps facilitate Reynold’s annual Rhythm and Brews show, Oct. 21, this year featuring 1990’s rock band Tonic opening for Better Than Ezra.