Dr. Jay Dean has been the music director of The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra since 1988. During his tenure, the orchestra has risen to enjoy an international reputation that enhances not only the university, but also the state and region. The symphony regularly performs to sold-out houses with audience members representing a diverse cross-section of the southeastern United States. His recruiting efforts have turned the organization into a multinational conglomerate. Dean's vision literally has brought the world to Mississippi, including performances across the state with internationally known classical icons such as Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sir James Galway, Joshua Bell, Denyce Graves, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Roberta Peters, John Browning, Manuel Barrueco, Christopher Parkening, and Edgar Meyer. He has also conducted concerts with major popular artists such as Doc Severinsen, The Pointer Sisters, Patti La Belle, Dionne Warwick, Patti Austin, Ricky Skaggs, and Sandi Patty. Dean has also guest conducted many orchestras in the United States, Latin America, and Europe.
Dean received his DMA in orchestral conducting from The University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to The University of Southern Mississippi, he was music director of Dekalb Youth Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta, the Mercer University/Atlanta Chamber Orchestra, the Columbus State University Orchestra, the Atlanta Festival Orchestra and Chorus, the Austin Civic Orchestra, and the Southwest Chamber Orchestra. He also served as assistant conductor for the Austin Lyric Opera.
Dean is the Founding Artistic Director of Festival South, a multi-week, multi-genre music festival and General Director of the Hattiesburg Civic Chorus and Concert Association. He has been the executive director of the Professional Resource Institute for Musical Excellence, the executive director of the Vicksburg International Chamber Music Festival, and president of the Mississippi Orchestra Teachers Association. Also, he was artistic director of the Southern Arts Festival, state president of the National Opera Association, regional membership chair for the International Conductors Guild, and past president of the Mississippi Music Educators Association Orchestra Division. He served as the representative from the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning on the advisory board for the formation of Mississippi School for the Arts, and has served on the board of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters and the Mississippi Opera Education Committee. He was also the music coordinator for four international art exhibitions presented by the Mississippi Commission for International Cultural Exchange, and Dean is a member of the International Conductor's Guild and a clinician for the Scherl and Roth Musical Instrument Company.
The symphony is a study in international relations as students from over 15 different countries come together for one purpose - music. Dean's priority for the orchestra - establishing a group that is an impetus to change people's lives in a positive way. The orchestra strives for professional excellence in performance and first-rate musical opportunities for its audience as well as its members. The musicians have opportunities to showcase their talents through various musical activities as well as interaction with other businesses and organizations in the region. Members of the orchestra play with virtually every other orchestra within a 100-mile radius, serving not only the Southern Mississippi community but also providing a service to other communities in the state and beyond. Dean's skilled leadership created unique partnerships that allow members of the orchestra to provide musical performances in every school and senior center in our city.
In 2009, Jay Dean and the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra received the Governor's Award for Leadership in the Arts. He is a musical ambassador for Mississippi. He does this for the community and state he loves without thought of accolade or reward. His central mission is to provide life-changing experiences for his students and raise the quality of life in the community and state of which he is a part.