Four professional vocalists, some with local ties, will join The
University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra to perform
what is believed to be one of Ludwig van Beethoven's greatest masterpieces,
his Ninth Symphony.
also celebrates the opening week of Mississippi's latest international
exhibition, "The Glory of Baroque Dresden." In addition
to the guest soloists, the orchestra will unite with the Hattiesburg
Choral Union, the Delta State University Chorus, and the Millsaps
College Singers at 8 p.m. March 6 at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson,
following a preview concert in Hattiesburg at 7:30 p.m. March 4
in Bennett Auditorium on the university campus.
Under the baton
of Dr. Jay Dean, musical director for the Symphony Orchestra at
Southern Miss, the quartet of soloists include native Mississippian
Dr. Maryann Kyle, Jackson resident Lester Senter Wilson, LSU's voice/opera
division chair Robert Grayson, and Austria native Benno Schollum.
a host of other composers in 1785 who raced to put Friedrich Schiller's
ode "An die Freude" ("To Joy") in musical form.
So strong was the ode's theme of world brotherhood and enlightenment
that many young and idealistic composers of the time were immediately
drawn to its message.
version, although it lay unfinished for three decades and subsequently
became his last symphony, was different from the rest-it has been
hailed as "perfect" and "sublime." The music
is of unprecedented difficulty, especially for the solo vocalists.
Kyle, a soprano
and assistant professor of voice at Southern Miss, can attest to
the difficulty of the piece. "The vocal range, its high range
in particular, can be quite challenging to the vocalists, as well
as the fluctuating dynamic levels. There are times when our voices
must be quite loud and then quickly quite soft."
direction, the Southern Miss Symphony has performed some type of
musical event for every major exhibition that has been presented
in Jackson during the last decade. Thus, being no stranger to the
concept of what these exhibits can do for Mississippi's cultural
image, Dean had no difficulty in selecting a piece that best personified
the intent of unity through exchange.
Ninth Symphony is one of the two most well-known choral and orchestral
works in the world," Dean explained. "The whole message
of the piece is brotherhood, freedom and unity. And, that is what
all these exhibitions have been about-in terms of unifying humanity
proclaims Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as one of the most beautiful
pieces of music ever written, even with all its technical bravado.
"It's one of those pieces that even if you don't know Schiller's
text or of what we are singing, he created an uplifting, exciting
piece that fills you with joy and happiness."
Kyle has sung
leading roles with numerous opera companies, including the Chattanooga
Opera, Des Moines Opera, East Tennessee Opera, LSU Opera, Gulf Coast
Opera, and of course, the opera program at Southern Miss. She appeared
as Micaela in Carmen, opposite internationally renowned mezzo-soprano
Denyce Graves and as a guest soloist of the Miami Festival, opposite
famed bass-baritone William Warfield.
to her duties as vocal instructor at Southern Miss, she is the director
of the university's Southern Opera and Music Theatre program
a native of Louisiana and a mezzo-soprano, began her career with
the Rossini heroines in La Cenerentola, The Italian Girl in Algiers,
and The Barber of Seville. She has performed with opera companies
in New Orleans, New York, Charleston (S.C.), Grand Rapids (Mich.),
Knoxville, Shreveport, Jackson, and Memphis, to name a few and with
numerous symphony orchestras, nationally and internationally. She
made her New York debut with a piece commissioned for her.
Wilson completed the recording of two CDs, one called Somebody's
Darling, a collection of music from the Civil War, and another called
The Owl and the Pussycat, which includes other songs from the collection
of Mrs. Jefferson Davis. The music for both CDs came from the collection
at the Mississippi State Museum.
Grayson is a Kirkpatrick Endowed Professor at LSU and has enjoyed
a 30-year career as a leading tenor with many opera companies, including
a decade as a leading tenor at the New York City Opera in Mefistofele,
Carmen, Norma, La Boheme, Madame Butterfly, Tosca, and La Traviata.
He was also part of a recording of Antony and Cleopatra by New World
Records that received a Grammy Award for best classical recording.
tenure at LSU, Grayson has been widely credited with revitalizing
the quality of LSU Opera artistically and programmatically. He returned
to the voice studio last fall, where he intends to add to his catalogue
of working professional singers, several of whom are now performing
with companies in New York City.
Born in Klagenfurt,
Austria, baritone Benno Schollum studied singing at the Vienna Music
Hochschule (now the University for Music in Vienna). Having founded
the Franz Schubert Institute in 1978, he is a permanent member of
the teaching staff, specializing in diction.
on his teaching career, Schollum has a varied stage repertoire that
includes many operetta and opera roles as well as a large part of
the Classical-Romantic Lied and oratorio repertoire.
a choir of more than 250 singers, a full orchestra and four talented
guest soloists, the greatest challenge Dean faces is having everyone
fit on stage.
begins in Hattiesburg March 4 as the Southern Miss Symphony presents
a preview concert to a home crowd at 7:30 p.m. at Bennett Auditorium
in Hattiesburg as part of the Symphony's 83rd season, sponsored
by BancorpSouth. Tickets for the March 4 Hattiesburg performance
are $18, $16 and $14.
the Jackson opening week performance at 8 p.m. March 6 at Thalia
Mara Hall are $35, $25, and $15. For tickets to either concert,
call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425,
or visit www.usm.edu/tickets.
also available for a special March 6 VIP package, that includes
a reception, a private viewing of the exhibition, and concert admission.
The package cost is $75 per person. For tickets and information,
call the Symphony Orchestra office at (601) 266-4001.