All semester they have been practicing toward this.

On Dec. 3, the Aiken Youth Orchestra will finish up its year with a winter concert.

“It will feature some challenging, inspiring and beautifully orchestrated music,” according to a release.

Christmas and Hanukkah songs will be performed.

The group is comprised of third-graders to high school seniors, according to conductor Joe Laorenza.

There is two main parts – the immediate and the orchestra section.

Students are divided by skill level, according to Laorenza.

From the overall group comes another subset, one of Laorenza’s own creations – the string ensemble.

Each section will participate in the concert.

“The Chamber strings have been working hard on some more traditional music, such as Leroy Anderson’s ‘A Christmas Festival,’ while the full orchestra is ready to blow away its audience with some challenging pieces by Jean Sibelius and Antonin Dvorak,” according to a release.

The performance will be at the Aiken Center for the Arts at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The Aiken Youth Orchestra has played at Hopelands Gardens, Hitchcock House and the Etherredge Center, where it has opened for the Symphony Orchestra Augusta.

To join, you must try out.

Students must come prepared with a solo and be ready to sight read, according to Laorenza.

Auditions will be held in January.

Laorenza is Aiken High School’s former band director.

He is assisted by Angela Shaw.

The two have worked together for two years.

Shaw is a strings teacher for the Augusta-Aiken area.

The Aiken Youth Orchestra was established in 2002.

For more information, call the Aiken Center for the Arts at 803-641-9096.