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Released May 22, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Patricia Sharpe Malone, professor of music at The University of Southern Mississippi, was the featured oboe soloist April 26 for the American premiere of the recently reconstituted movement of Beethoven's "Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra," which had been "lost" - until now.

The Mobile Symphony Orchestra, of which Malone has been a member and principal oboist since its inception in 1997, is under the direction of its young and energetic music director Scott Speck, who secured from the Netherlands first-time rights to perform the recently found piece. The historic performance was held at the Saenger Theatre in Mobile.

As part of the symphony's season-finale concert, the Beethoven movement was sandwiched rather quietly between such musical showstoppers as Aaron Copland's "Old American Songs" and George Gershwin's poignant "Porgy and Bess." The late addition to the program of American classics came about after Speck spotted a blip on CNN's ticker that read, "Beethoven oboe concerto premieres in the Netherlands."

Not believing his eyes, Speck did his homework and found out that there was indeed a discovered eight-minute Largo movement of Beethoven's oboe concerto, and it was reconstructed by Dutch musicologist Jos van der Zanden and composer Cees

Nieuwenhuizen. After connecting with Van der Zanden, who had been soliciting American orchestras to perform the piece in the United States, Scott jumped at the chance to be the first.

Malone told Thomas Harrison, arts and entertainment editor for the Mobile Register, that she found the prospect of performing the American premiere of this lost piece "very exciting."

"It dawned on me what this is, and I became more and more excited and started calling people," Malone told Harrison. She was teaching a lesson in her studio in the Fine Arts Building on campus when she received the call from Speck.

"He opened the conversation by saying 'I have a proposition for you,'" Malone said. "He told me of what he had seen on the CNN ticker, while watching the war coverage, and immediately thought of me."

Having performed a vast amount of oboe literature in her teaching and performing career, she qualified that the piece was "a very nice little piece, not a great piece." Written by a young 22-year-old Beethoven, it lacked the maturity and technique that he exhibited later in his career.

"But, as I played it more and more, I realized how the piece had become very charming and beautiful in its own way," Malone said.

Harrison, in a review of the concert, said the Largo was "a tantalizing hint of the composer's greatness." He also praised Malone's artistry in "giving the audience a sense of the lilting sweetness of the work, which suggests nothing so much as a technician on the verge of becoming an artist."

Malone, a native of Dallas, Texas, also serves as principal oboe in the Mobile Opera Orchestra and the Meridian Symphony. Previously, she has performed with the Victoria (Texas) Bach Festival, the Pensacola (Fla.) Symphony, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Symphony, the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony and the Savannah (Ga.) Symphony.

As a member of the Baroque chamber ensemble, Promenade, Malone has performed in concerts throughout the United States and Europe.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM