Released May 2, 2003


HATTIESBURG - The 83rd season of Mississippi's oldest symphony orchestra at The University of Southern Mississippi is "Bringing the World to Mississippi." The new line-up of stars to shine on the Bennett Auditorium stage include famed Metropolitan opera star Roberta Peters and classical guitarist Christopher Parkening.

Jay Dean, conductor of the symphony, sings high praises for the special guest artists as he continues to program classical, audience-friendly concerts.

"We are calling our season 'Bringing the World to Mississippi' to reflect our desire to bring world-class artists to campus to share their talents with our patrons and students," Dean said. "We will be performing great classical music, chosen for its beauty and artistry, that should appeal to audiences from all walks of life and giving everyone the opportunity to hear some of the greatest masterpieces ever written."

Making good on a promise given by famed Metropolitan Opera star Roberta Peters when illness prevented her from performing in February, the diva will give a recital Sept. 9 to those who had tickets to her cancelled performance. A limited number of new tickets will be available to the public as well.

"Roberta Peters is recognized all over the United States and the world as one of the greatest voices that American opera has ever produced," Dean said. "As the leading figure in opera and vocal performance, there is no opera aficionado who does not know of Roberta Peters."

Her many credits include 500 performances with the Metropolitan Opera, more than 2,000 recitals and performances in every state in the United States as well as in most countries in Europe and Asia.

Following her lead and officially opening the Symphony's 83rd season Oct. 2, Parkening is one of the world's most renowned virtuosos of classical guitar and is the recognized heir to the Segovia tradition. For those unfamiliar with that tradition, Andrés Segovia is the preeminent classical guitarist of the 20th-century.

"If it wasn't for Segovia, there would be no classical guitar in this country," said John DeChiaro, professor of classical guitar at Southern Miss. "His innovations in guitar rose above great resistance from other classical musicians of his time. Segovia made the guitar a classical instrument and brought it to the concert stage."

Segovia himself describes Parkening as "a great artist, one of the most brilliant guitarists in the world."

Parkening's concerts and recordings span a period of two decades and have received highest acclaim. His rare combination of dramatic virtuosity and eloquent musicianship has held his audiences captive from New York to Washington, D.C., from London to Tokyo.

"Christopher Parkening is a name I have known for a number of years," Dean said. "We haven't had an internationally renowned guitar figure on our season, and we are very fortunate to have him accept our invitation."

Other highlights of the BancorpSouth-sponsored season include a concert Nov. 6 featuring Joe Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic; a presentation of Handel's "Messiah" Dec. 4; the William T. Gower Awards concert Feb. 5, 2004; a concert March 4, 2004, devoted to Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9," given in conjunction with the exhibition of "The Glory of Baroque Dresden" in Jackson; and a Richard Wagner spectacular with "Scenes from 'The Ring'" April 22, 2004.

"Our audiences have been very positive about our concentrated effort to bring great classical music to our concert hall during the 2002-03 season," Dean said. "There is so much great literature that we can share with our patrons and so many wonderfully talented performers for us to draw upon in presenting these programs."

Some of these performers are Dean's fellow faculty members in the School of Music at Southern Miss. Faculty artists Kimberley Davis, Maryann Kyle, Clint Nichols and Larry Smith are featured on the holiday concert of Handel's "Messiah." Conducting will be Gregory Fuller, director of university's choral activities. Fuller's premier choir, the Southern Chorale, also joins the program.

Joining the orchestra for Beethoven's Ninth will be Kyle and guest artists Lester Senter Wilson, Robert Grayson, Benno Schollum and the Hattiesburg Choral Union. "The Ring" concert will feature guest artists Sheila Smith, Douglas Biggs and Herbert Eckhoff. Dean will conduct both concerts.

Back for another year as the Symphony's sponsor is BancorpSouth.

"We are proud to continue our relationship with BancorpSouth, as they have been so supportive of the symphony family," Dean said. "We appreciate the support that Dwight Dyess has giv0en to the university over the years and now, more specifically, to the Southern Miss Symphony."

Ticket information for the 2003-04 Symphony season is available through the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Tickets may be ordered online at

For more information, call the symphony office at (601) 266-4001 or visit online at



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July 15, 2003 2:29 PM