• 63°

Bobcat band, choir debut Thursday

Lincoln County’s newest music program is finally taking the stage.

The Bogue Chitto Attendance Center band and choir, both of which started from scratch at the beginning of the school year, will hold their first public performance Thursday at a free concert at Easthaven Baptist Church. The nearly 60 students will take the stage in the hourlong show, which director Andrew Different said would take listeners on the same musical journey on which his students have embarked for the last three months.

“We’re going to play our very first notes we ever learned, and we’re going to progress through our book so that the audience will hear what progress the band has made and how they’ve gotten better and better through the weeks,” he said. “We’ll go further and further, and at the end we’ll play an arrangement as a concert band.”

The show goes on Thursday at 7 p.m. Admission is free, and attendance encouraged.

A pair of Bogue Chitto guitarists will perform the traditional English folk song “Greensleeves” as the audience files in and the stage is prepared. The dozen members of the school choir will perform first, harmonizing on a handful of Christmas classics — “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Rock Around the Christmas Tree,” “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Let it Snow.”

The band will perform last, and the 42-member group will start its show with a single, blaring note, recreating the first day of band by playing from the first page of “The Standard of Excellence Book 1,” the band’s daily teaching workbook. The band will play selections from the book, layering on complexity as it goes, and end the concert with “Jingle Bells.”

“Then they won’t be playing in unison, they will be playing different parts, in harmony,” Different said.

The band performing Thursday consists of students in grades seven through 12 — most are in seventh through ninth, with two sophomores, one junior and one senior. The 15-member sixth-grade band will perform its own show later in the school year, Different said.

He’s hoping future concerts will feature more students. Interest in the new music programs at Bogue Chitto is growing, even as the school undertakes the slow and expensive process of building up a band from the ground — student musicians buy their own horns, but instruments like tubas, timpani, bass drums and other large items are bought and maintained by the school.

Different said band and choir at Bogue Chitto have opened up new avenues of creative expression for students who otherwise might not have participated in an extracurricular activity at school. He’s hoping to see a big crowd Thursday night to give them some encouragement.

“It’s an open concert, and the kids would love to see an audience,” Different said. “Come out and support music in schools, art programs in schools.”

Bogue Chitto Principal Scott Merrell, who worked with the school board to establish the band, said Thursday night’s show is the realization of a long-time plan.

“I can’t wait to see them perform Thursday night. I couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “The parents are 100 percent behind the program and our booster club is working very hard to make it the best it can be. As an administrator, you can’t ask for more for any school program.”