ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Friday and Saturday night, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will be going country. It’s only the second time the RPO will be presenting country music in its nearly 100-year history.
The program, “Country Hits: Songs From Nashville,” put together by Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik, features singer Rick Brantley, who also prominently featured in a previous Paul Simon showcase put on by Tyzik in last year’s Pops series. Tickets can be found here.
Music starts at 8 p.m. both nights, but will also feature a pre-concert chat at 7 p.m., where Tyzik and Brantley discuss how they put the show together.
“Rick is a storyteller,” Tyzik said at rehearsal Friday. “On the Simon concert when he sang ‘The Boxer.’ It was his own story. It was amazing. And I just knew he had the soul of this country music and he was the expert that I needed to work with to really bring this to life.”
That soul of country music was another key for Tyzik as he was putting together the program. Besides the full complement of the RPO, the core of the sound is a country band, complete with acoustic, electric, and slide guitars, and bass and drums.
“Being able to take that tell these stories to interpret these songs in a completely brand new way that I’d never done before… And so few of us had the opportunity to do this, at this level,” Brantley said. “The hardest part is remembering to sing because you’re in the middle of this beautiful thing that’s happening on stage.”
The program will start “at the beginning,” with a rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” and will move to Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and will finish with modern artists such as Tim McGraw, and Kacey Musgraves.
Brantley said it’s his third time paying Rochester, and has come to love Western New York, and even offered a rousing “Go Bills!” at the end of the interview.