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Released October 20, 2004


HATTIESBURG -The second season concert for The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Nov. 4 in Bennett Auditorium will feature two School of Music faculty artists, Dr. Lois Leventhal, piano, and Dr. Richard Perry, tuba.

The "Twice as Grand" concert opens with Leventhal performing with the orchestra on Maurice Ravel's Concerto for Left Hand. Paul Wittgenstein, a concert pianist, who had lost his right hand in World War I, originally commissioned the work around 1930. A serious work, but with some lighter moments, it has been acclaimed as Ravel's most dramatic composition.

Ravel himself commented that he "used a style which is much more in keeping with the consciously imposing style of the traditional style" on his left-handed concerto. It is one long movement divided into Lento and Allegro sections. A long orchestral section avoids the first appearance of the soloist until a climax brings in the piano.

This technique was designed to show, from the beginning, that single-hand limitations do not prevent extraordinary virtuosity. Ravel described this as being "like an improvisation."

Following the piano concerto, the orchestra welcomes Perry to the stage to perform John Williams' Tuba Concerto. A modern, popular composer who wrote the piece for Chester Schmitz, tubist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1984-85 for the centennial of the Boston Pops, Williams has a penchant for the tuba sound-for its quality of "breathing." The sound is, particularly for Williams, something large and mysterious and sometimes-but not always-monstrous.

Connoisseurs of Williams' film scores will recall that the tuba represented the character Jabba the Hutt, presented late in the "Star Wars" trilogy. His work was also featured in the Mother Ship duet in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and in passages of "E.T.," perhaps his most highly rated score.

For this concerto, Williams treats the tuba as a lively, skipping youngster with a lyric quality, yet with a certain degree of heft, according to musicologist Steven Ledbetter, who writes program notes for the Southern Miss orchestra, among others. The work is laid out in the normal three movements, but with no breaks between them.

"I had not performed the (Williams) piece before, but it had been on my 'to-do' list for years," Perry said. "There are very few tuba works by 'named' composers, so that alone makes it significant, at least to me. It's also one of the most challenging pieces that I've played!"

Music director for the orchestra, Dr. Jay Dean, likes the combination of guest performers for this concert. "This program is a brilliant combination of diverse composers, instruments and performers. Any concert should be like a great meal-a great appetizer, entrée and dessert. That is what this concert will give to the audience-a well-balanced musical meal."

Following intermission, the orchestra will perform Ludwig Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E-flat ("The Eroica"), op. 55. "Eroica" often has been tied to the composer's contradictory feelings about Napoleon. Ledbetter said Beethoven first wanted to compose a work in honor of the pragmatic leader as first consul-as a spokesman for a more democratic government in France.

But, when Napoleon declared himself emperor in 1805, Beethoven flew into a rage and cried out, "Is he then, too, nothing more than an ordinary human being? Now he, too, will trample on all the rights of man and indulge only his ambition."

During this time, Beethoven was struggling with his own demon--his increasing deafness. His powerful works written during this time were attributed to his own "wresting control of his fate from a malign universe," according to Ledbetter.

"We are excited about performing this piece on the concert program," Dean said. "It is a one of the most well-known orchestral masterpieces ever written. From a musical point of view, it changed the history of music because of its bold innovations."

Perry is assistant professor of tuba and euphonium at Southern Miss, where he directs the Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble and performs with the Southern Arts Brass Quintet. He joined the faculty in the fall of 2000. Perry has been active as a clinician and performer throughout the Southeast, including appearances at the University of Alabama, Auburn University, the University of Kentucky, and Valdosta State University.

He has been a featured performer at regional, national, and international conferences as a soloist and an ensemble player. He has released two CDs with the Modern Jazz Tuba Project that have received critical acclaim.

Leventhal received her doctorate of music at Indiana University and is a professor of music at Southern Miss. In 1991, she was the recipient of The University of Southern Mississippi's Award for Faculty Excellence. Her performing career includes concerto appearances throughout Mississippi, as well as solo and chamber recitals in Chicago, New York, London and, under the auspices of the United States Information Agency, Argentina and Uruguay.

Her performances have been broadcast widely and may also be heard on compact disc on Crystal and Albany labels with colleague Lawrence Gwozdz, saxophonist.

The Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra's 2004-05 season is sponsored by BancorpSouth. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $18, $16, and $14 and may be purchased at the Southern Miss Ticket Office by calling (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Tickets may be ordered online at For more information on the symphony season, visit


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November 23, 2004 9:23 AM