Released May 21, 2003

SAX-CHAMBER ORCHESTRA GOES TO CONGRESS

HATTIESBURG -The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Music can now boast of having 14 members in Congress - the World Saxophone Congress, that is. The Sax-Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Gwozdz, professor of music, has been invited to perform a one-hour program for this prestigious congregation of saxophonists July 9 in Minneapolis, Minn.

"Since its inception in 1969, the World Saxophone Congress has brought together saxophonists from all over the world to celebrate the growing musical heritage of the instrument," Gwozdz said. "World Saxophone Congress XIII will be hosted by the University of Minnesota School of Music from July 9-13. As the world's largest gathering of professional, amateur and student saxophonists, the event will feature a full schedule of concerts and presentations, and include displays of instruments and accessories by retailers and manufacturers from many countries."

Gwozdz went on to explain how the Congress selects its performing groups. A board of 11 directors represents Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Spain and the United States. A call for proposed presentations was due by December 1 preceding the Congress and then a committee considered each proposal's value to the gathering.

"I believed that our submission needed to represent our country as much as possible," Gwozdz said. "After careful consideration, I assembled a program of music by American composers, wrote a detailed proposal and included our recording 'America Remembers' that is distributed by Qualiton Imports in New York.

"I chose two works from that recording and three others from our repertoire. The committee listened to the CD and studied our proposal among the hundreds they received and honored us by giving us an entire hour."

Two works on the orchestra's program have been composed especially for the Southern Miss ensemble. "Two of my colleagues in New York and Nebraska were so intrigued by the concept of a saxophone orchestra that it was easy to ask them to compose for us," Gwozdz said.

One such colleague, Randall Snyder, is a composer and saxophonist at the University of Nebraska and is a player Gwozdz considers "a very imaginative musician." His piece "Celluloid" was inspired by movies from the 1950s. The other new work was written by David Heinick of SUNY-Postdam in New York, called "Chorale Fantasia: How Brightly Shines the Morning Star." It was partly derived from an organ prelude that he had composed several years ago.

Other Congress program works to be performed include Charles Ives' "Variations on America," Harold Schiffman's "Concertino" and Mark Taggart's "Lament and Credo."

The concert will not be without its poignant moments. Dr. Richard Scruggs, visiting assistant professor of the Southern Miss saxophone studio during the spring semester while Gwozdz was on sabbatical, will conduct the Schiffman and Taggart works.

"It is particularly meaningful for Dr. Scruggs to conduct these pieces on our program," Gwozdz said. "Schiffman was a professor at Florida State University, where Scruggs earned his doctorate. The 'Lament and Credo' is a memorial tribute to the late Kenneth Deans, my predecessor here at Southern Miss and Scruggs' professor during his study for the baccalaureate and master's degrees."

As an added bonus, Gwozdz also has been invited to perform as a soloist with the World Congress Symphony Orchestra in selected movements of the Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, a work composed for him by New Orleans composer Stephen Dankner.

"I had offered the committee two completely different works, and after hearing the recording that was made with the Louisiana Philharmonic, they chose the Dankner piece," Gwozdz said. "This will be a significant performance for the composer, as he gets to have his music heard by hundreds of saxophonists at once."

The members of the Southern Miss Sax-Chamber Orchestra hail from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New York. The members will return to Hattiesburg a week prior to the trip to rehearse, traveling at their own expense. But the group has raised money during the spring semester to fund their travel expenses by selling copies of its CDs, playing concerts on and off campus for donations, receiving generous contributions from the Family Practice and After Hours Clinic of Hattiesburg and securing support from all levels of the university administration. The group also plans to perform at various locales along the route to Minneapolis for contributions.

For more information about the upcoming appearance, call Gwozdz at (601) 266-6934.

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July 15, 2003 2:29 PM

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