BROOKSVILLE ó Impressive guest performances, student nights and 25 new pieces of music are just a few of the exciting additions to the Hernando Symphony Orchestraís 2017-18 season.
And when the orchestra opens the season with the Sounds of the Season holiday concert this weekend, the audience will be in for a treat.
The concert will feature eight new selections, including two Trans-Siberian Orchestra pieces ó A Mad Russianís Christmas and Dreams of Fireflies (On a Christmas Night).
"We have some really great new pieces," said HSO conductor Michele DiLuzio. "The (orchestra) loves playing them, and the audience will love them, too."
Also new this season are the addition of "student nights" that give free admission to students at Friday night performances. The Dec. 15 concert is free for elementary-age students, Feb. 23 is free to middle-school-age students, and April 27 is free to high-school-age students.
This weekendís concert will feature a variety of holiday favorites and unique pieces, such as Gustav Holstís In The Bleak Midwinter .
"It has an awesome arrangement," DiLuzio said. "It starts with a big brass fanfare that goes right into a clarinet solo, then horns. Itís just a beautiful piece."
Other selections include: Shalom Chaverim (an Israeli folk song that means "farewell, good friends"); Christmas medleys such as An American Christmas, Twas the Night Before Christmas (with narration by lead trombonist Jay Leaman), Christmas Rocks at the Pops, Christmas in the Kitchen and African Bell Carol; and classic songs such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The second half of the concert will open with DiLuzio temporarily stepping away from her conductor duties to play with guest soloists, the Nature Coast Brass. The quintet includes DiLuzio and Mark George on trumpet, Tami Turner on tuba, Russ Kies on trombone and David Helfrich on horn. The group will perform five selections, including Deck the Halls, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Angels We have Heard on High and Do You Hear What I Hear?
There will be a special piece for the children that includes strings, brass and piano, with Leaman narrating Twas the Night Before Christmas. The concert will conclude with a sing-along.
"That is always an audience favorite," DiLuzio said.
DiLuzio promises an exciting concert season, with pieces from Carlos Santana, Bruno Mars and others.
"Expect the unexpected," she said. "Thanks to the Gift of Music program participation, we are able to purchase so many awesome arrangements. The generosity of our patrons is overwhelming. ... It allows us to always have something special to keep everyone coming back."