By: Brittany Bowes| Illustrations: Orlando Pimentel
It’s Thursday night, and downtown Athens is buzzing with energy. As you round the corner, you see a line forming outside the Georgia Theatre and the name of the showcase musician lighting up the marquee. From REM to the B-52s, Athens has always been a stop for budding artists. Upon closer inspection, however, it is evident that the Athens music scene is more than what you see downtown.
The Hugh Hodgson School of Music is home to much of this talent. A rising national leader in music schools today, Hugh Hodgson offers state-of-the-art facilities to help students in their dreams of performance careers in the future. The Performing Arts Center draws world-class artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Music students make up a large number of the patrons who attend these performances. Recently, Jazz at Lincoln Center performed at the venue.
“It’s ridiculous to see them live,” says Lauren Floyd, a junior music performance major from Marietta. “We even got a chance to have a private session with their drummer, Wynton Marsalis.”
Although Floyd has attended her fair share of concerts at the Georgia Theatre, many of her favorite performances came from the Performing Arts Center.
“I have a wide range of favorite artists,” Floyd says. “That seems to be a common trend in the music school.”
Others seemed to share this opinion. Chris Delmas, a freshman from Fort Oglethorpe, said that he “really likes all genres of music because they all tie into each other. All music comes from the same place.”
A double-major in music performance and education, Delmas hopes to someday play trombone for a symphony or philharmonic orchestra or teach. With this wide variety of tastes, Delmas says he tries to take full advantage of all the Athens music scene has to offer. He often ventures to the 40 Watt Club and the Georgia Theatre to support his friend’s band. Decades after REM, Athens is still a hot spot for budding artists to discover, cultivate and pursue their passion in all genres of music.
In addition to being patrons of performances, the school of music gives students the opportunity to display their talents through their own performances. Music education major Lillie Smith, a sophomore from Thomasville, was given the opportunity to play the Battle Hymn during the Troy game this football season.
“The Battle Hymn is such a significant part of UGA football history, and it felt good to be a part of it,” Smith says.
She has played the trumpet for 10 years and hopes to someday teach music in a school. She also plays guitar, drawing inspiration from favorite artist Ed Sheeran.
So while the students of the school of music have a wide range of favorite artists, it is evident that they are all passionate about the same things – music and performance. Together they prove that the Athens music scene is more than just the venues downtown. In fact, talent can be found in every corner of campus, making the University of Georgia not only a venue for world-class artists to perform but a venue to produce world-class performers in the future.