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Released January 21, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- The next season concert for the Symphony Orchestra at The University of Southern Mississippi will feature the three winners of the William T. Gower Awards competition Feb. 5 in Bennett Auditorium.

Showcasing the exceptional talent of the Southern Miss School of Music, this annual concert in the symphony season has become a favorite of local audiences.

The competition, although ongoing for more than 20 years, was renamed three years ago in honor of William T. Gower, former professor of music at Southern Miss and widely respected woodwind musician. Gower, who passed away in July 2003, was an inspiration to many budding musicians through his multitude of career performances at music conventions, high schools, colleges, and universities-often performing on a variety of instruments.

Gower joined the faculty at Southern Miss in 1963 as chair of the Department of Music Education, with a goal of building a university symphony. During his tenure, regular performances by the orchestra became the norm, featuring faculty and student soloists. Upon his retirement in 1974, the music education department had ballooned from a student enrollment of 75 to 350 majors and 50 graduate students.

The competition within the ranks of the School of Music is quite rigorous. More than 40 students auditioned in November 2003 before a panel of judges from outside the university. This year's award recipients are clarinetist Matthew Carl, trumpeter Michael Ellzey, and saxophonist David Parks.

"These very talented students will hopefully be our stars of tomorrow," said Pablo Saelzer, assistant conductor of the symphony and guest conductor for the concert. "Maybe, later in life, we will be able to say that we knew them when they were students here at Southern Miss."

Saelzer and the orchestra will open the 7:30 p.m. concert with Samuel Jones' "Janus." Following the opening work, the three competition winners will perform the music that earned them distinction among their peers.

Carl, a Georgetown, S.C., native is working toward his master of music in clarinet performance. He has been studying with professor of music Wilbur Moreland for the past two years. Under the instruction of Douglas Graham at the University of South Carolina, he earned his bachelor of music in 2002.

Performing Aaron Copland's "Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra" on the concert program, Carl has also studied conducting with Dr. William Moody and is now studying with Dr. Thomas Fraschillo. He is principal clarinetist of the Wind Ensemble at Southern Miss and performs with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra. He will receive his master of music in May 2004.

Ellzey is a doctoral candidate at Southern Miss, studying in the studio of Dr. Joel Treybig. He holds a master of music from the University of Akron and a bachelor of music from Southern Miss. Prior to his studies with Treybig, Ellzey studied with retired Southern Miss faculty member Allen Cox, Wayne Lineham of the Mississippi Symphony, Scott Johnston at Akron, and Dr. Charles Decher at Tennessee Technological University.

He will perform Alexander Arutunian's "Concert for Trumpet" on the program. While at Southern Miss, Ellzey has been active in various ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, University Singers, Oratorio Chorus, brass quintet, and trumpet ensemble.

Parks, who will be performing Paule Maurice's "Les Tableaux de Provence," received a bachelor of arts in music performance from Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., where he studied saxophone with Sylvia Baker, flute with Sheri Harbeson, and conducting with Dr. Richard Strauch and Professor Bryan Priddy.

Now studying with Dr. Lawrence Gwozdz, Southern Miss professor of music and acclaimed saxophonist in his own right, Parks has performed in master classes for Steven Mauk, John-Edward Kelly, James Houlik, and Otis Murphy, among others. He is pursuing a master's in saxophone performance at Southern Miss.

After the student performances, Dr. Elliott Pood, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Southern Miss, will officiate the awards ceremony.

Also guest conducting for the concert is Juan Carlos Peña.

"Having guest conductors is a win-win situation for the orchestra," said Dean. "It gives the orchestra a chance to work with different styles of conducting and allows us to showcase some great conducting talent."

Guest conducting Aaron Copland's piece, Peña is a native of Honduras, where he began his musical studies at the Victoriano Lopez School of Music. He holds a bachelor of music from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music and a master of music in orchestral directing from the University of Maryland. At Southern Miss, Peña serves as visiting assistant professor of double bass.

Since moving to Mississippi from Chile, Saelzer has been conductor of the Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra in Jackson and has appeared a number of times as guest conductor with the Mississippi Symphony. A doctoral candidate at Southern Miss, he is the conductor of the Mississippi Youth Symphony Orchestra and the assistant conductor for the symphony at Southern Miss.

The symphony's 2003-04 season is sponsored by BancorpSouth. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $18, $16, and $14 and may be purchased at the Southern Miss ticket office by calling (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Tickets may be ordered online at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM