Shortly after wrapping up her second season as conductor of the Hernando Symphony Orchestra earlier this year, Michele DiLuzio thought about what she could introduce during the 2016-17 season that would be new and compelling to the orchestra and its patrons. Then it hit her.
"It was one of those brainstorm ideas that came to me in the middle of the night," DiLuzio said.
She asked her lead trumpeter, Mark George, for assistance, giving him a "job" to do over the summer.
As a result, the HSO Holiday Singers will make their debut this weekend at the orchestra's holiday concerts, "Sounds of the Season."
The newly formed group of 10 singers was recruited and fashioned by George, who is also a church choir director, and members include his friends and some family members.
"They are our very own choral group," DiLuzio said. "They are a part of us now. I'm very excited."
The Holiday Singers will perform four numbers, accompanied by the orchestra: Little Drummer Boy, Jingle All the Way (a medley of favorites), Believe and Sing We Now of Christmas.
In the past, prior to DiLuzio taking over as conductor, when singers performed with the orchestra, they sang along to orchestral arrangements. But thanks to the orchestra's Gift of Music, which DiLuzio introduced, allowing patrons to purchase new music for the orchestra, she has been able to order choral music, with the orchestra providing accompaniment.
On its own, the orchestra will perform a variety of holiday favorites, including Canadian Brass Christmas, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Wizards in Winter, Once Upon a December (a Golden Globe-nominated piece from the animated film Anastasia), Hanukkah Festival and Tannenbaum Fantasia. The concert will also include a sing-along — always an audience favorite — as well as a special "treat" for children in the audience.
DiLuzio promises an exciting concert season that will include 17 new pieces. February's "Spectrum" concert will include a selection from a variety of musical genres, such as Moon River, Michael Jackson hits and the Who's Pinball Wizard. The final concert, "Kaleidoscope," will include selections such as When I Fall in Love and medleys from The Wizard of Oz and Cats.
"Thanks to the Gift of Music program participation, we are able to purchase so many awesome arrangements," DiLuzio said. "We have an amazing season."