Mississippi Holiday Spectacular, a pops-style concert and fireworks
show created to celebrate America's independence holiday, has found
a permanent home, come rain or shine, according to Dr. Jay Dean,
event coordinator and music director for The University of Southern
Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.
tried different venues for our four previous productions and have
been at the mercy of the late evening rain showers," Dean said.
"For this year's production on July 2, we have chosen Pride
Field on campus that is located next to the Payne Center. We will
cover the orchestra and performers with a tented stage so we can
play regardless of the weather."
Dean is working
with the personnel at the Payne Center to make the event, at its
new home, audience friendly and is confident that this location
will be permanent. In addition, a community-based committee has
been formed to ensure the event's longevity and to secure sponsors
committee of university personnel and representatives of local businesses,
we want this event to be one that the community can count on to
begin their Fourth of July weekend celebrations," Dean said.
"Our nation's birthday is a great time for getting together
with family and friends. We are excited about contributing to the
essence of the season for south Mississippi."
that have already joined the university's Symphony in planning and
sponsorship include the Hattiesburg American, Comcast Cable, BancorpSouth,
Turtle Creek Mall, B95 Radio, Trustmark National Bank, and Inn on
marketing director at the Turtle Creek Mall, sees this event as
an important community partnership. "It brings us together
as a community, to remind us of our heritage as a country and to
instill in our children a patriotic spirit," she explained.
"By getting local community organizations and businesses involved,
it creates community ownership."
Jazz" is the theme of the July 2 event. Jazz guitarist and
vocalist Chris Cortez and his quartet will join the Symphony Orchestra
as well as other guest performers for the 8 p.m. concert and fireworks.
is the quintessential American art form," Dean said. "It
is music that everyone loves-it is music that is fun to listen to,
and it reaches down into the American soul."
Orlando, Fla., native who now resides in New Orleans, has become
quite a "regular" on the jazz scene in the Big Easy. He
first arrived in the area as music director for some of the production
shows on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 1995. He has held long running
jobs at the Grand Casino, Treasure Bay Casino Resort, the President
Casino, Casino Magic, and the Copa Casino.
His own groups,
the Music Machine and the Chris Cortez Big Band, were not only headliners
on various marquees, but also got the opportunity to back acts such
as Bo Diddley, The Coasters, The Haggar Brothers and Lenny Welch.
Known for his
musical versatility, Cortez has a proven track record. In 1996,
he was winner of the Jazziz Magazine Guitars on Fire contest. His
fourth recording, "Hold It Right There," was released
in August 2003 to rave reviews.
Cortez is the hottest jazz guitarist in the South," Dean said.
"He will bring a lot of his own original music to the table,
including a couple of tunes from his latest CD, along with some
jazz standards that everyone knows."
with the orchestra are jazz vocalists Sethe Tucker and Dean Bellais.
Jazz instrumentalists Bill Murphy and Larry Panella round out the
slate of guest artists for this "spectacular" evening
of all-American jazz.
Tucker is an up-and-coming jazz singer from Atlanta and will sing
a tribute to Billie Holiday," Dean said. "Dean Bellais
is a terrific vocalist who sings all types of music-opera, popular
music, and jazz. Bill Murphy is the finest jazz writer and arranger
in Mississippi, and Larry Panella, not only a great jazz saxophonist,
is our director of jazz studies at Southern Miss."
has it, the orchestra will close the evening with a rousing rendition
of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," complete with blasting
cannons, courtesy of Camp Shelby, and a professional fireworks display
at 9 p.m.
the event is free. For more information, call the Southern Miss
Symphony office at (601) 266-4001.