As the Symphony Orchestra Augusta presented stunning selections of classical music at the Etherredge Center on Monday, Kaitlyn Sanderson couldn't stop smiling and applauding at every opportunity.

The Warrenville Elementary School fifth-grader was still delighted with the opportunity afterward.

“I had not seen this before,” Kaitlyn said. “I liked how the conductor got one side to be loud, and the other side went silent.”

The Aiken Symphony Guild sponsors the Augusta orchestra's appearance at the USC Aiken campus every year. All fifth-graders in Aiken and Edgefield counties are attending the event – totaling as many as 2,500 children and adults over two days.

The orchestra gave two performances on Monday, and two more are scheduled for today.

In May 2013, two students won a music competition, qualifying for the experience of performing with the orchestra.

Violinist Delany Crews, a North Augusta High School junior, who won the senior competition award last year, played Vivaldi's “Concerto in A minor,” for both performances on Monday.

Daniel Coffin, a tuba player and a Midland Valley High School freshman, took the junior competition award last spring. He is scheduled to play in both orchestra programs today.

Crews, 16, has played the violin for 11 years – the last eight with Aiken teacher Joanne Stanford.

While he plans to study marine biology in college, “violin is one of my favorite things. This has been a great experience,” he said.

The orchestra's first selection – a children's piece, “Come to Play,” provided a special treat.

As the professional musicians performed, they were joined by a number of fifth-graders on their recorders.

Two other Warrenville students, Hayden Rogers and Jacob Clerc, proudly played their recorders as Hayden's mother, Jennifer, took a video on her phone.

“They are so excited,” music teacher Amanda Fulmer said. “They have worked so hard on their parts, playing new notes faster. They showed me they could play before we left today.”

Kaitlyn's description of the program was accurate; as longtime Guild member Sandra Terry said, the program was interactive and focused on rhythmic patterns of sound and silence – titled “Orchestra Rocks.”

In recent years, the Guild has struggled financially, Terry said.

She credits the efforts of the previous president, Sheryl Phillips, and the current president, Jim Sproull, for moving the organization forward.

“I appreciate the fine music,” Sproull said. “The Guild was in trouble, and I wanted to do the best I could to save it.”

Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001.

He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.