Originally created 02/11/00

Augusta Symphony will face challenge playing for Platters



This year, the Augusta Symphony's Valentine Pops at the Bell will feature a group of singers who set teen-age hearts throbbing -- in the 1950s.

The Platters, known for hits such as Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Only You and The Great Pretender, will join the symphony in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at the William B. Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

The show is a sellout of the 2,200-seat arena, said Sandra Self, the symphony's executive director. "The Platters are really excited, and so are we. It gives us as an orchestra the opportunity to showcase some really good music in a different genre."

The orchestra will open the show with Sounds of Motown, a medley of rhythm and blues songs that will include music by the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

The orchestra will also play a tribute to Billy Joel, featuring the songs Piano Man and Honesty, and a Duke Ellington medley.

"The complexity of performing for pops concerts can be more challenging than our masters work," Ms. Self said. "The actual music for the masters is more difficult to play -- after all, it's the masters. The challenge for pops concerts is the programming ... but it shows how diverse we can be -- going from traditional to Billy Joel to Motown."

The Platters will perform with the orchestra after intermission. Herb Reed is the only surviving member of the original group, which got its start in Los Angeles in 1952 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

The Platters enjoyed a lengthy string of hits in the late '50s and early '60s, beginning with Only You in 1955 and continuing with four No. 1 singles: The Great Pretender, My Prayer, Twilight Time and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

In almost 50 years of touring and recording, the Platters had 16 gold records and sold more than 89 million albums.

In concert

What: The Platters, with the Augusta Symphony

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: William B. Bell Auditorium, 712 Telfair St.

Admission: Sold out

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3217 or jbanks15@hotmail.com.