6,000 Tampa Bay area students given the gift music with annual Steinbrenner Christmas Concerts

Three Tampa Bay area venues came alive with holiday spirit this week for the annual Steinbrenner Christmas Concert, and it was a treat for Hillsborough and Pinellas school kids. 

About 6,000 students were invited and treated with the gift of music from some of the best musicians in the land: The Florida Orchestra. About 2,000 students got to attend each event. 

Tuesday's concert was held at the Straz Center in Tampa, Wednesday's was held at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater and Thursday's performance was at the Mahaffey in St. Petersburg. 

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Holiday favorites abound, teaching them all the instruments on stage making sound. 

"You get a chance to educate," said Chelsea Gallo, a conductor with the Florida Orchestra. "You get a chance to participate. When you combine a symphony orchestra's power with the holidays, especially with children, it's us at our greatest." 

At the Ruth Eckerd Hall concert, special guest dancers delivered classics like "The Nutcracker" with special guest singers from Dunedin High School, the Falconaires. It encourages them, if they had any inhibitions about taking up art of any form one day, to let them go. 

Singers from Steinbrenner High School's the Entourage sang at Tuesday's Straz concert and St. Pete High School's the Pitchforks performed at the Mahaffey concert. 

The Steinbrenner family and New York Yankees have gifted Tampa Bay area underserved students with these concerts for 32 years, honoring the late George Steinbrenner's dream to entertain and inspire youth. 

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"That's the whole point of it," said Julia Steinbrenner with the Steinbrenner Family Foundation. "That you're hopefully bringing something to the table for a kid who maybe otherwise wouldn't have picked up that instrument, and now it's done something for them or provided them with some sort of joy." 

Retired Yankee great Bernie Williams stopped by to encourage them to be their best at everything they do. FOX 13's Mark Wilson, the annual emcee for the concerts, also played his guitar up on stage, showing the students that music can enrich their lives without it being their full-time job. 

With an encore performance afterwards outside, everyone took home a high five, a Yankee gift bag and memories to lift their spirits through the season. The Steinbrenner family has brought the magic of music to more than 200,000 Tampa Bay area school children over the years.