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Released January 31, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Famed singer Leontyne Price has been an inspiration to Dr. Mary Ann Kyle, a new assistant professor of voice in the School of Music at The University of Southern Mississippi. At 17, Kyle first heard Price sing in "Porgy and Bess" with William Warfield. It was love at first note.

To pay homage to this Mississippi legend, Kyle will present a faculty recital titled "A Tribute to Leontyne Price" Feb. 7 at the Hattiesburg Cultural Center. The event is part of the Downtown with the Arts Series.

"I have chosen to honor Ms. Price as an American treasure and one of Mississippi's most honored citizens," Kyle said. "I also have chosen music that reflects different elements of her performance career."

In 2001, Kyle had the privilege of visiting with the Laurel native during Price's last visit to her home state. The two sopranos talked about Price's childhood memories, including Price's ballet debut in white tennis shoes and a tutu. Kyle said the evening was an unforgettable journey into her heroine's life.

Jewel Tucker, longtime administrative secretary in the president's office at Southern Miss, will join Kyle on the evening's program as narrator.

"There will be stories and anecdotes from Ms. Price's life and career that Jewel Tucker will narrate," Kyle said. "I am honored that she is going to take part in my recital."

Pianist Theresa Sanchez, a faculty member at Jones County Junior College and past president of the Mississippi Music Teachers Association, will collaborate with Kyle. Also joining the program are bass baritone Andrew Mark Webb and the Southern Opera and Music Theatre chorus, a Southern Miss ensemble that Kyle directs.

"I have included selections on my program that [Price] performed on her Carnegie Hall recital debut in 1969," Kyle said. "There also are selections from the American Negro Spiritual repertoire, a favorite of hers. She often referred to spirituals as the ‘American art song.'"

Other program selections include two pieces from Samuel Barber's "Hermit Songs"—ones that Price herself premiered with Barber as her accompanist—and several arias from some of Price's most celebrated opera roles, including "Tacea la notte" from Il Trovatore, "Porgy and Bess," "La Forza del Destino," "Carmen," and "Tosca."

The 7:30 p.m. recital is free and open to the public. For more information, call (601) 266-6059.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM