In honor of its silver anniversary, the Hernando Symphony Orchestra plans to celebrate with a little nostalgia.
The ensemble's annual holiday concert series, which kicks off this weekend, will lean heavily on yuletide favorites from throughout its 25-year history.
"Holiday music always resonates special memories," said Wayne Raymond, who is marking his ninth year as conductor and music director of the orchestra. "We decided that it would be fun to reprise some of the music that we've enjoyed performing and our audiences have enjoyed hearing over the years."
Raymond said the program will include music that goes back to the earliest days of the orchestra, when it was under the direction of Marvin Rosenberg.
Because the holiday concerts always offer an opportunity to showcase local talents, Raymond said he extended invitations to two popular guests that have graced the orchestra's performances in recent years.
The Bells of St. Frances, a 12-member, three-octave bell choir from St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church in Spring Hill, will perform A Resounding Medley for Christmas and The Glory of Christmas with the orchestra, and will perform solo on Good King Wenceslas and The Joy Of Christmas.
Also joining the ensemble will be vocalist Jason Yungmann, who will sing White Christmas and narrate a rendition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with orchestra accompaniment. Yungmann, an eighth-grade American history teacher at Explorer K-8 School, has been a familiar face on Hernando stages and has performed with the orchestra several times.
"Jason has one of the most expressive voices I've ever heard," Raymond said. "We had quite a few requests to have him come back and sing White Christmas."
Rounding out the program will be a couple of compositions that Raymond says have become orchestra favorites, including the theme from the film The Polar Express.
"It's a very challenging piece of music, but I think that's why the musicians love performing it," Raymond said.
Raymond said that although he understands how starting off a season with a holiday concert might be a bind for many orchestras, he thinks it's fitting in a community where many residents are just settling in from a summer spent up North.
"Time moves at a different pace here," he said. "Once Thanksgiving is over, people are ready to get into the holiday spirit."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.