HATTIESBURG – For
more than a decade, the Marian Anderson String Quartet, the only
professional African-American string quartet in the world, has brought
inspiration and hope to every segment of American society.
The University of Southern Mississippi, in cooperation
with the city of Hattiesburg, Hattiesburg Public Schools, the Mississippi
All-State Orchestra, and the Mississippi Orchestra Teachers Association,
will present the Marian Anderson String Quartet in concert at 7:30
p.m. April 8 at Bennett Auditorium on the Southern Miss campus.
In addition to the public performance, the quartet
also will be performing to a packed house of Hattiesburg Public
School students at 9:30 a.m. April 12.
"We have asked this wonderful ensemble to come
to Hattiesburg as part of the Mississippi All-State Orchestra program,
held at Southern Miss April 7-9," explained Dr. Jay Dean, music
director for the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra. "We want
to share the talents of this group with as many schoolchildren as
possible while they are here."
With performance venues ranging from concert stages
to presidential inaugurations, the quartet continues to uphold its
mission to create new and diverse audiences for the field of chamber
Marianne Henry, a founding member of the group, said
the musicians first came together as friends. Once they saw the
response they were getting from minority audiences, they soon realized
their role model potential.
Vrita Delaine, assistant to the vice president for
student affairs at Southern Miss, calls the performances an "opportunity
of a lifetime." She added, "To host such a group as the
Marian Anderson String Quartet is the chance of a lifetime to showcase
the diversity of music that will serve to encourage minority students
to stick with their goals and dreams of playing string instruments."
On September 30, 1989, the members of the Marian Anderson
String Quartet, then known as the Chaminade Quartet, came together,
unaware that they would soon change history. In 1991, the quartet
won the International Cleveland Quartet Competition, becoming the
first African-American ensemble in history to ever win a classical
To highlight this singular achievement, the quartet
members asked permission from the great American contralto Marian
Anderson to use her name as their own. Anderson responded with heartfelt
approval and in a memorable show of gratitude, the newly named Marian
Anderson String Quartet played for its legendary namesake and her
nephew, conductor James DePriest.
The group's artistic endeavors have brought them to
such venues as New York's Tully Hall, the Corcoran Gallery, the
Library of Congress, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University
of Southern California and the Chateau Cantanac-Brown in Bordeaux,
The Marian Anderson String Quartet has been quartet
in residence at City College of New York and California State University-Los
Angeles. Having recently completed a graduate fellowship program
at the acclaimed Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in
Houston, Texas, they are the ensemble in residence at Texas A&M
University and Prairie View A&M University.
Tickets for the April 8 concert are $10 for adults
and all students will be admitted free. Tickets may be purchased
through the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425
or online at www.usm.edu/tickets. For more information, call the
symphony office at (601) 266-4001.