Released March 20, 2003


HATTIESBURG - The next season concert for the symphony orchestra at The University of Southern Mississippi April 3 in Bennett Auditorium will feature a piano duo performing one of Wolfgang Mozart's most challenging concertos and the Hattiesburg Choral Union performing one of his most famous works, "Requiem."

Dr. Gregory Fuller, director of choral activities at Southern Miss and guest conductor for the evening's concert, said he has great confidence in guest pianists, Richard Steinbach and Howard Helvey, to take on this highly technical and competitive piano duo.

According to musicologist Steven Ledbetter, Mozart wrote the composition in 1779 as something he could play with his sister, also a very talented musician and performer. It has a certain amount of "tossing musical ideas back and forth," as one would find in a competition or duel.

"This concerto is not often performed as it takes two musicians who are willing to rehearse together quite regularly," Fuller said. "Both artists perform together at least monthly in a variety of venues. Prior to their appearance on our program, they will perform in Vicksburg and afterwards at Jones Junior College."

Fuller has professional ties to both pianists. Helvey was Fuller's accompanist at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, while Steinbach was on faculty with Fuller at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. Fuller said he feels a sense of pride for having introduced them to each other and beginning their prolific collaboration.

Active as a pianist, composer and arranger, Helvey also serves as organist/choirmaster at the historic Calvary Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Known for his published choral music, his compositions have been featured on various recordings, national networks and PBS television broadcasts.

Since winning the top prize at the 1995 French Piano Institute's International Competition in Paris, Steinbach has established himself as an extraordinarily versatile artist whose insightful interpretations of both French and American music have been widely acclaimed.

Following the piano duo and intermission, Fuller leads the orchestra and the Hattiesburg Choral Union in their presentation of Mozart's Requiem, one of the most recognized and performed works in the classical music repertoire.

"There are several editions of this dramatic work, but I think we are using the best one -- that being the edition completed by Mozart's own pupil Franz Xaver Süssmayr after the composer's death," Fuller said. "This particular manuscript is very clear to annotate who wrote what parts, and Süssmayr completed the work based on Mozart's sketches."

Several university choral students will sing the solo parts of the composition, including Krista McKenzie, soprano; Kathy Wade, alto; Rudy Gatlin, tenor; and Matthew Green, bass. These students auditioned for these parts in November 2002, captured the roles and have been preparing for the performance since.

Another unique aspect of this performance is the use of Bassett Horns, a single reed instrument similar to a clarinet that was used during Mozart's time. As a unique experience for his students, Wilbur Moreland, professor of clarinet in the Southern Miss School of Music, encouraged Fuller to rent these horns and use them during the performance.

The Southern Miss Symphony's 2002-03 season is sponsored by BancorpSouth. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $18/$16/$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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July 15, 2003 5:11 PM