- Renowned local pianist Brian Blair will take center stage
at the Saenger Theatre March 21 in a concert that will celebrate
two of Hattiesburg's unique treasures The University
of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and the Hattiesburg
Historic Downtown District.
will perform an array of songs from Academy Award-winning
films such as "Gone with the Wind" to present day
films in a program fittingly titled "Hooray for Hollywood."
The concert, presented as part of the Downtown with the Arts
series, also serves as a fund-raising event that is right
up Blair's alley.
symphony is an inspiration to me in what I do for a living
and motivates me to be a better musician," Blair said.
"I believe in supporting the arts and believe the community
needs a strong orchestra but a strong orchestra takes
symphony, founded in 1920, is a leader in university symphonies
nationwide and often has been favorably compared to some of
the best regional orchestras. Comprised solely of student
musicians, the Southern Miss Symphony has played host to internationally
renowned and highly sought-after soloists, including Yo-Yo
Ma, Denyce Graves, Ray Charles, Doc Severinsen, Edgar Meyer
and Itzhak Perlman.
in point, Perlman, who rarely plays with student ensembles,
agreed to a return engagement after his first appearance on
the symphony season in 1996 and performed again with the orchestra
in the 2001-02 season.
himself has garnered acclaim throughout the region for his
command of the popular song repertoire, with a catalogue of
more than 1,300 memorized selections ranging from the late
1800s to the present.
is such a well-known performer in our area and a generous
philanthropist," said Jay Dean, musical director of the
symphony at Southern Miss. "This concert will be a positive
outreach on our behalf, and we are extremely grateful for
his support of our endeavors."
for Hollywood" is a tribute to the 75th anniversary of
the Academy Awards and the100th anniversary of the first full-length
motion picture, "The Great Train Robbery." Blair,
whose great aunt was a silent film pianist, will accompany
a short segment of the film in the style of that period.
featured on the program will be songs from "The Wizard
of Oz," "Casablanca," "Gigi," "Dr.
Zhivago" and many others. A trio of singers Maryann
Kyle, Heather Clancy Allen and Dean Bellais will join
Blair on the program. The vocalists have all performed with
the Southern Miss Symphony on numerous occasions.
with the Arts series is a partnership that includes the Southern Miss
Symphony Orchestra, Trustmark Bank, Partners for the Arts,
William Carey College, the Hattiesburg American, the city
of Hattiesburg, the Hattiesburg Historic Downtown Association,
Hawthorn Suites, and 206 Front Street. This coalition formed
to create arts events in the downtown area to stimulate interest
in the further development of that locale.
University of Southern Mississippi greatly benefits from this
community and presenting events in our downtown area is one
of the ways we can give back to those who support us in such
a meaningful way," Dean said. "We all should be
aware of what a positive thing it is for any community to
have a vibrant downtown. We feel it is important to present
events not only on campus but in the center of our historic
community as well."
a Hattiesburg native, agrees. His father, noted architect
Steven Blair Jr., passed along an appreciation for the preservation
of historic buildings to his son early in his youth.
for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $10 for general admission and
may be purchased by calling (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425.
Order online at www.tickets.usm.edu. For more information,
call the Symphony office at (601) 266-4001.