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Released November 19, 2004


HATTIESBURG - 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 find."

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 voice."

"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 For more information on the Symphony Orchestra season, visit


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December 8, 2004 4:32 PM