DELISLE, MS (WLOX) – The jingling tunes of the holidays echoed through the gym Tuesday at Delisle Elementary School. The students enjoyed a free Christmas concert, performed by the Pass Christian Middle School Band.
Many of the band members were playing new, top quality musical instruments that were donated by the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.
"They basically are there to serve schools that are in need," said Pass Christian Middle School Band Director Mark Russell. "So I just asked for everything that I thought we needed. I was shocked at all that we got. Virtually everything we asked for, we got."
There are eleven instruments in all and they are valued at about $75,000. They include french horns, drums, bells, even a set of chimes. Most of the instruments replace the ones that were lost in Katrina.
"We were limited in the kind of literature we could play," said Russell. "With the new instruments we got, we probably have some of the best equipment of any middle school band program in the state now."
And that's music to the ears of the children, especially those who have never played an instrument before.
"I was just shocked and surprised, because this is my first year being in band and this is my first time playing a clarinet," said sixth grader Alicia Swanier.
"It helps us a lot, because it's new instruments that we never had," said sixth grader J.T. Moore.
"I was real excited, because we have a lot more stuff to play," said seventh grader Josh Rutledge.
The generous gift is already inspiring creativity and giving an upbeat boost to the band program in the Pass.
"We're working at growing a top quality band program and these instruments can be used in years to come," said Russell. "So I hope it helps our program grow in numbers and in quality."
The Pass Christian Middle School Band also performed at Pass Elementary School. And the band played during a free holiday concert Tuesday night.