The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony
Orchestra will present a special holiday concert at 7:30 p.m., Dec.
3 at the Saenger Theater in downtown Hattiesburg, featuring world-famous
Marcel Evans of The Drifters, the Dixie Darlings, the Southern Chorale
and the Southern Miss Samba Band, among others.
"Holidays at the Saenger" will be a festive,
but musically varied program," said Dr. Jay Dean, musical director
for the orchestra. "We have invited guest performers who will
bring the holidays to life like no other concert we have performed.
By joining the likes of the Dixie Darlings, the Samba Band, the
Southern Chorale, and of course, our special guest Marcel Evans,
we will have entertainment for all ages."
The concert opens with Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh
Ride," during which the world-famous Dixie Darlings will be
featured in a Radio City Music Hall Rockettes-style routine.
Later in the program, the dancers will perform again
to composer Bill Murphy's premiere of a new holiday piece, "Dances
with Elves." "It is another Rockettes-style tune, written
with our dancers in mind," Dean said. "The Dixie Darlings
will bring a visual element to the concert that you don't normally
The Southern Chorale, under the direction of Dr. Gregory
Fuller, director of choral activities at Southern Miss, will perform
a trio of traditional Christmas carols, including "Joy to the
World," "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," and "Ding
Dong! Merrily on High."
Following the Chorale, special guest performer Marcel
Evans will join the orchestra for a segment of holiday favorites,
including "I Wish Every Day Could Be Like Christmas,"
"Merry Christmas All," and "When a Child Is Born."
Evans' musical career, which spans more than three
decades, including lead singer for The Drifters, has captivated
audiences all over the world. The consummate showman has been a
charismatic singer since his youth.
When he ventured out on his own, he wanted to develop
his own creative style. Evans' first solo album, "Going Places,"
produced a Cash Box top 10 hit, "Sweet Gemini." His first
country album, "The Singer," was another Cash Box hit,
tipping the chart at No. 13 and winning him the CMA Mississippi
Lifetime State Ambassador of Country Music in 1997.
Featured at some of the most prestigious showrooms
across the United States, Evans' sultry voice has mesmerized audiences.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines dubbed him "the man with the golden
"Marcel is best known as the voice on legendary
Drifters recordings of "Under the Boardwalk" and "This
Magic Moment," Dean stated. "Even if you don't know the
name Marcel Evans, you know the voice!"
The Southern Miss Samba Band, under the direction
of Dr. John Wooton, director of percussion studies at Southern Miss,
takes the stage with music selections that will cause uncontrollable
toe-tapping. "The very nature of samba music is excitement,"
Wooton said. "It's rhythmic, soulful, and a perfect addition
to a holiday celebration."
Later, Wooton and Grooves Inc. will return to the
stage to provide a lighthearted element of the show with "The
Twelve Grooves of Christmas."
"Grooves Inc. brings a tremendous comic aspect
to the program," Dean said. "It's a program of great music
and provides a lot of fun for adults and children alike."
The Hattiesburg Choral Union will perform "Away
in a Manger" and "I Saw Three Ships," and will close
the evening's program with a fantastic medley written for the Boston
Pops called "A Feast of Carols."
With all these different performers and styles, "Holidays
at the Saenger" will be a true "Pops" Christmas program.
The Symphony Orchestra's 2004-05 season is sponsored
by BancorpSouth. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $18/$16/$14
and may be purchased at the Southern Miss Ticket Office by calling
(601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Tickets may also be ordered online
at www.usm.edu/tickets. For more information on the Symphony Orchestra
season, visit www.usm.edu/symphony.