DANVILLE — The Danville Symphony Orchestra is taking a country twist this month.

The evening will feature two singers/songwriters from Nashville who have written more than 20 No. 1 hits for top artists.

And, if you have some talent, you have a chance to enter a contest and take the stage yourself.

The program, “Danville Symphony Orchestra Goes Country,” will start at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Fischer Theatre.

Tickets are selling quickly, DSO Executive Director Cindy Nacco said.

With country music being popular in the area, the theme is attracting people who may not have attended a symphony concert in the past.

“We’re trying to expand our audience,” she said. “I’m getting really excited about it.”

The featured artists will be Marcus Hummon and Matraca Berg. They will share personal stories of working with the artists who made their songs famous. Hit songs will include “Cowboy Take Me Away,” “Xxxs and Ooos” (American Girl), “One of These Days,” “You and Tequila,” “We Danced Anyway” and “Strawberry Wine.”

The symphony also will perform Aaron Copland’s “Hoe Down” from “Rodeo” and an arrangement of the bluegrass classic “Orange Blossom Special” by Ervin Rouse.

In addition, one or two local vocalists will get the chance to perform with Berg and Hummon, who are members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Entrants (age 18 or older) may submit a video, and the public will vote for the best videos.

For those who think a symphony orchestra plays only classical or easy-listening music, this concert will change their mind.

Jeremy Swerling, DSO’s 25-year conductor, believes the audience will be thrilled to hear how well the orchestra can complement the country sound.

“What makes an orchestra so great is its ability to create and expand musical moods,” he said in a press release. “Whether it’s those strings in the soul-searching moments or winds and percussion in the fun-loving themes of country music, we make it all sound even better by adding color, texture and depth.”

Swerling and his 48 musicians also are eagerly anticipating DSO’s first concert in the historic Fischer Theater, which was recently renovated thanks to generosity of the late Julius W. Hegeler II and local contractor Paul Offutt.

He said, “It almost feels like I felt when my wife was pregnant with our two boys, Ari and Solomon. The giddy anticipation of how everything will turn out is immense.

“How will it sound on the stage versus in the audience? The logistics of putting an orchestra on a new stage are complex. We’re checking our lists up and down the operation over and over to ensure that we anticipate everything we possibly can.

“It’s the beginning of a new era for the DSO, thanks to Julius and we want to start it off with the right way.”

Nacco agreed that Hegeler’s influence will be felt that night. He helped save the Fischer, and also was a DSO patron.

“He was always so good to the symphony in the past and the Fischer Theatre. We see the benefits of what he was doing come together,” she said.


The complete list of songs for this concert and the singers associated with them are:

“Born To Fly,” Sara Evans

“Cowboy Take Me Away,” Dixie Chicks

“God Bless the Broken Road,” Rascal Flatts

“One of These Days,” Tim McGraw

“Only Love,” Wynonna Judd

“Ready to Run,” Dixie Chicks

“Strawberry Wine,” Deana Carter

“The Last One to Know,” Reba McEntire

“We Danced Anyway,” Deana Carter

“Wild Angels,” Martina McBride

“Xxx’s and Ooo’s (An American Girl),” Trisha Yearwood

“You and Tequila,” Kenny Chesney/Grace Potter.


No purchase is required. Entrants must choose from three numbers provided. To enter the contest, make a video of yourself or your duet singing the number. It can be accompanied or unaccompanied by either live music or a recording. One person may enter in two categories (such as with a solo and a duet). Submit your video with a YouTube link for everyone to view. The video with the most votes will move on to the next round.

The selections are: “Love is the Right Place” by Marcus Hummon; and “The Last One to Know” and “Faking Love” (duet), both by Matraca Berg.

The winner will sing the number with the song writers and the band, including piano, bass and drums in front of a live audience. There will be a short run-through at 5 p.m. Feb. 29, when the winner and the band will sing and play through the song one or more times. The performance will take place at the beginning of the second half of the concert, after the orchestra performs.

See more details on the website.

This concert is being sponsored by Financial Legacy Partners, Iroquois Federal, and the Illinois Arts Council.

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