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A new arts program is being introduced in Southern Maryland.

The Southern Maryland Youth Orchestra has announced its inaugural season this spring. The symphony orchestra is designed for young musicians, primarily those in sixth through 12th grades, who have completed at least one year of study on their instrument.

Julia Nichols of Leonardtown is president of the orchestra.

Growing up in Vermont, Nichols played the violin in a youth orchestra and remembers the value of that experience. She has three children who all play the violin also, and she’s hoping to provide that same experience for them, as well as for other young musicians in the region.

“I think the [band and orchestra] programs in the school system are very good,” Nichols said Monday. “But I think for kids, the more opportunities for music there are the better ... [The students] can also get a little bit different experience playing outside of school.”

AnnMarie Karnbach, the orchestra director at Chopticon High School, is the director of the new group, which will include strings as well as brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.

Once auditions for the inaugural orchestra are completed in January, the group will meet weekly for rehearsals starting in February. The group’s first concert will be held in May. While the orchestra is primarily designed for students in middle and high school, younger than sixth-graders may audition, and at the discretion of the director, may be accepted.

Nichols encouraged prospective musicians and their families to attend one of two information sessions to learn more. The first will be 5:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Lexington Park library and the second will 10 a.m. Jan. 12 at the Charlotte Hall library.

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