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County hosts an array of holiday performances

COVINGTON - Thanksgiving is just a week away, and for those who need something to get them in holiday spirit, there will be no shortage of opportunities to hear the music and see the lights of the season.

Several free events will be held in Newton County in the coming weeks, including the Covington/Conyers Community Orchestra, a voice and organ concert featuring Becky Ramsey and the Community Band's annual performance.

The five-year-old Covington/Conyers Community Orchestra will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Newton High School's Porter auditorium.

The performance is free.

"This is our gift to the community," said flutist Charles Woods.

Even though it's the group's fifth-annual holiday concert, the performance will include an "extreme variety of music," Woods said.

"That's the reason we have it before Thanksgiving - because everybody else is doing (holiday music)," Woods said.

The group will play music from Lowell Mason, the founder of school music, and a suite of Civil War music called "The Blue and the Gray."

"We'll also have a jazz march, which is a departure from the typical orchestra," Woods said. "It's a fun-filled offering, and it's educational, too."

The orchestra, which features traditional orchestral instruments, as well as a violin and bassoon, includes everyone from eighth-grade students to senior citizens. It also includes three area band directors.

"It's a true community group from all ages," Woods said. "Several people play in our orchestra, as well as the Community Band."

The Community Band will perform for free at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 at Eastside High School's auditorium.

"We'll be playing holiday music," said founder and conductor T.K. Adams. "We will have four small groups play one song each, and the full group will play seven selections."

The band, which includes two violinists, a French horn, an oboe and several other instruments, has practiced since the second week in September.

"We feel that we have a very close-knit group," Adams said about the 50-member band that originated 13 years ago. "We get closer together each year."

Adams said the group includes about 10 members who were part of the original group.

Becky Ramsey and Alice Walker's Organ Inaugural Concert Series also continues Sunday at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Covington.

Opera singers Florence Peacock and Mark Whatley will join them for the voice and organ concert.

"We'll have music from Bach and Mozart," Whatley said. "Also, we'll have Broadway music at the end of the concert, as requested by the Mayor of Covington."

Other holiday performances in the coming weeks include Morehouse College Glee Club at The Church at Covington on Saturday and The Nutcracker featuring the Covington Regional Ballet and Guests at Newton High School's Porter auditorium on Dec. 2 and 3. Tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and $12 for students.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: If you go

Upcoming Holiday Events:

' Today - 6 p.m. Lighting of the Historic Newton County Courthouse on the Covington Square

' Saturday - 8 p.m. Morehouse College Glee Club at The Church at Covington (Tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and $12 for students)

' Sunday - 7:30 p.m. Covington/Conyers Community Orchestra at Newton High School's Porter auditorium

' 3 p.m. Voice and Organ Concert featuring Florence Fowler Peacock, Mark Whatley and Becky Ramsey at the First United Methodist Church of Covington

' Nov. 29 - 8 p.m. Conyers Covington Choral Guild Holiday Concert at First Baptist Church of Covington (Tickets are $10)

' Dec. 1 - 7 p.m. The Nutcracker featuring the Covington Regional Ballet and Guests at Newton High School's Porter auditorium (Tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and $12 for students.)

' Dec. 2 - 3 p.m. The Nutcracker featuring the Covington Regional Ballet and Guests at Newton High School's Porter auditorium (Tickets are $22 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and $12 for students.)

' Dec. 3 - 7:30 p.m. Community Band at Eastside High School's auditorium

' Dec. 6 - 7 p.m. Lighting of the Porterdale Tree in Downtown Porterdale

' Dec. 6-7 - 8 p.m. Oxford Chorale Holiday Concert at the Oxford College Chapel

' Dec. 7-8 - 7 p.m. Christmas in Covington featuring the Oxford Singing Children and Youth Singers at the First United Methodist Church of Covington (Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $8 for students.)

' Dec. 10 - 7 p.m. Youth Strings Orchestra Holiday Concert at the Oxford College Chapel

' Dec. 15-17 - First Baptist Church Choir Christmas Musical honoring veterans at Eastside High School's auditorium