BROOKSVILLE — Quite often, when leaders take over, a number of promises are made that never come to fruition. When a new leader not only promises changes, but also makes them happen, the result can be music to one's ears.
When Michele DiLuzio took over as conductor of the Hernando Symphony Orchestra a year ago, she implemented several changes, including a new venue, new music and a new relationship with patrons.
The resulting success can be experienced this weekend when the orchestra presents its "Deck the Halls" holiday concert at the Central High School theater.
The venue change to Central is one that should benefit everyone, DiLuzio said. The theater is centrally located for those living in Spring Hill and Brooksville. For the past several seasons, the orchestra had performed at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
The change DiLuzio is most excited about is the implementation of the orchestra's "The Gift of Music" program, which allows patrons to donate toward the purchase of music.
"Music is costly," DiLuzio said. "We can spend anywhere from $65 to more than $500 just for one piece."
Not only does the program help the orchestra purchase new music, but it also gives patrons a "stake in the orchestra," DiLuzio said. Their names will be attached to the music they donate toward.
"Not only does the orchestra get tired of playing the same songs, but the audience gets tired of hearing the same songs," she said.
Some of the holiday concert's new selections, as well as some favorites, include Christmas Eve in Sarajevo; The Christmas Waltz; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Festive Sounds of Hanukkah; and Winter Wonderland.
Guest soloist Caitlyn George will sing six numbers — four with the orchestra, including Do You Hear What I Hear?; Mary, Did You Know?; Carols of the Night, and Ave Maria. The other two will be sung to piano accompaniment provided by Sylvia Leaman — Josh Groban's Thankful and Mozart's Alleluia.
"Caitlyn is amazing. Her voice is just beautiful," DiLuzio said. "She is such a professional, such a pleasure to work with. The orchestra just loves her."
DiLuzio also promises a special surprise for the children in the audience.
"We have something up our sleeve," she said.
Another change this season: Doors will open one hour prior to each concert for a "meet and greet" with the orchestra members.
"There is so much talent here and so much support," DiLuzio said. "We are their orchestra. It is because of them that we exist, and we want our patrons to get to know the musicians. … It's so exciting."