The Mark Twain Middle School bands will present their winter concert at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the school cafeteria.
Approximately 140 students in the Beginning, Concert and Symphonic bands will perform a variety of selections, including holiday tunes like “Jingle Bells” and “Hanukkah is Here” and the march “Falcons in Flight.”
The bands will also perform the Virginia premiere of “A House Divided,” based on President Abraham Lincoln’s 1858 “House Divided” speech, created by composer Brian Balmages. Balmages will participate as a guest conductor during the event. Boston Brass tuba player Andrew Hitz will also complement the students' performance.
Tiffany Hitz, director of bands for the school, said Balmages changed music for school bands, and students were eager to perform his pieces.
"Brian is a world renowned and acclaimed composer of band and orchestra music. It is a common perception among many in my field that he has revolutionized the way music is written for school bands," Hitz said in a recent email. "Brian's influence can be felt in the work of many of his contemporaries, and students are hungry to play his pieces."
Balmages was happy to get involved with the students' performance this year, and will practice with the wholle group before the performance.
"Tiffany has been a friend of mine for years. She invited me to come work with her students, and I suggested a few pieces that may be of interest to her," Balmages said.
As eager as they were to learn some of Balmages works, Hitz said her students are just as anxious for their big night.
"I think they are very excited, though likely a little anxious as well. For the Beginning and Concert Bands, it will be most of these students' first concerts at Twain. That adds to the excitement for sure," Hitz said. "But for all students — and myself — preparing and performing a composer's piece for the composer is a tremendous responsibility, and the students are feeling some pressure about that. We want to honor the work, love, and creativity that Brian has put into each piece, and we want to honor the intent and spirit of each work."
The concert is free of charge, open to the public and a reception will follow the performance.