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Released November 26, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Although written in Italian, the language of music is powerful enough to bridge cultural gaps. Seven students from The University of Southern Mississippi's School of Music discovered this last October when they were allowed to conduct the Italian Army Band.

Part of the university's second international conducting workshop, the trip gave student conductors and musicians the opportunity to spend a week in Rome training with 85 professional band members courtesy of the Italian government. The workshop ended in a concert performance by the Army band, with the student conductors taking the lead.

"This is a wonderful experience for our students - a life changing experience," said Dr. Thomas Fraschillo, director of bands at Southern Miss. "We're the only university in the United States doing anything like this in Italy."

Fraschillo, the only Italian-speaking member of the Southern Miss entourage, acted as the go-between when language issues arose between the musicians and conductors. But doctoral student Jeff Mathews said that differences in language weren't a problem. After all, with most musical terms written in Italian, the students and musicians were often on the same page.

"Since the language of music is Italian, there are enough commonalities that you could communicate with the band," said Mathews, a music teacher at Northwestern State. "If we needed to express another idea, we had Dr. Fraschillo there and the Army band conductor."

The trip, which offers academic credit and is scheduled again for next Oct. 4-11 in Rome, is by invitation only. Fraschillo and Dr. Steven Moser, associate director of bands, invite "only those who can give the very best impression of Southern Miss and are truly mature enough to learn from the experience," Fraschillo said.

The students who made the trip this semester were Brian Scott, (MM), Anya Harper (MMEd), Joyce McCall (BMEd), Chris Pickens (BMEd), Chris London (BM) and Perry Lawley (BMEd).

The arrangement between Southern Miss and the Italian government was possible through relationships established by Fraschillo. The 20-year Southern Miss veteran was recently awarded a prize of 5,000 euro by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for contributing toward the spread of important Italian musical texts in English-speaking nations. Fraschillo won the award for his translation of the 20th-century work on the orchestration of Alessandro Casella and Vittorio Mortari, titled La tecnica dell'orchestra contempranea, or "Technique of Contemporary Orchestration."

Prizes for literature are given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on an annual basis according to the worthiness of texts submitted that are either published in Italy by Italian publishers or published in other countries with Italian publishers. Such prizes for scholarly works are given through a juried process by the ministry's panel of Italian professors to encourage the understanding of Italian literary and intellectual thought.

The Technique of Contemporary Orchestration is Fraschillo's second book translated from Italian to English. The first was called Instrumentation Studies for Band by Alessandro Vessella, published by the Milan-based publishing giant BMG Ricordi.

Fraschillo started his first work of translation while on sabbatical, during which time he "brushed up on Italian" taking classes at Southern Miss. "After that they were interested in my doing other books, so I thought, 'Why not an entire series?'" he said.

Fraschillo is currently working on his third book of Italian translation, which will be published jointly by the University of Illinois Press and BMG Ricordi.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM