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Released September 8, 2003

Season tickets sales brisk

HATTIESBURG - Season tickets for the 83rd season of Mississippi's oldest symphony orchestra are selling quickly at The University of Southern Mississippi but are still available, according to musical director Jay Dean.

In "Bringing the World to Mississippi," the new lineup of stars to shine on the Bennett Auditorium stage includes world-famous classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, renowned trombonist Joe Alessi and many more talented vocalist and performers.

Dean, conductor of the symphony, sings high praises for the special guest artists as he continues to program classical, audience friendly concerts.

"We are calling our season 'Bringing the World to Mississippi' to reflect our desire to bring world-class artists to campus to share their talents with our patrons and students," Dean said. "We will be performing great classical music, chosen for its beauty and artistry, that should appeal to audiences from all walks of life and giving everyone the opportunity to hear some of the greatest masterpieces ever written."

Officially opening the symphony's 83rd season at 7:30 p.m. Oct 2, Parkening is one of the world's most renowned virtuosos of classical guitar and is the recognized heir to the Segovia tradition. For those unfamiliar with that tradition, Andrés Segovia is the preeminent classical guitarist of the 20th century.

"If it wasn't for Segovia, there would be no classical guitar in this country," said John DeChiaro, professor of classical guitar at Southern Miss. "His innovations in guitar rose above great resistance from other classical musicians of his time. Segovia made the guitar a classical instrument and brought it to the concert stage."

Segovia himself describes Parkening as "a great artist, one of the most brilliant guitarists in the world."

Parkening's concerts and recordings span a period of two decades and have received the highest acclaim. His rare combination of dramatic virtuosity and eloquent musicianship has captivated audiences from New York to Washington, D.C., from London to Tokyo.

"Christopher Parkening is a name I have known for a number of years," Dean said. "We haven't had an internationally renowned guitar figure on our season, and we are very fortunate to have him accept our invitation. I feel he is the world's greatest classical guitarist."

Other highlights of the BancorpSouth-sponsored season include a concert Nov. 6 featuring Joe Alessi, principal trombonist of the New York Philharmonic; a presentation of Handel's "Messiah" Dec. 4; the William T. Gower Awards concert Feb. 5, 2004; a concert March 4, 2004, devoted to Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9," given in conjunction with the exhibition of "The Glory of Baroque Dresden" in Jackson; and a Richard Wagner spectacular with "Scenes from 'The Ring'" April 22, 2004.

"Our audiences have been very positive about our concentrated effort to bring great classical music to our concert hall during the 2002-03 season," Dean said. "There is so much great literature that we can share with our patrons and so many wonderfully talented performers for us to draw upon in presenting these programs."

Some of these performers are Dean's fellow faculty members in the School of Music at Southern Miss. Faculty artists Kimberley Davis, Maryann Kyle, Clint Nichols and Larry Smith are featured on the holiday concert of Handel's "Messiah." Conducting will be Gregory Fuller, director of university's choral activities. Fuller's premier choir, the Southern Chorale, also joins the program.

Joining the orchestra for Beethoven's Ninth will be Kyle and guest artists Lester Senter Wilson, Robert Grayson, Benno Schollum and the Hattiesburg Choral Union. "The Ring" concert will feature guest artists Sheila Smith, Douglas Biggs and Herbert Eckhoff. Dean will conduct both concerts.

Back for another year as the symphony's sponsor is BancorpSouth.

"We are proud to continue our relationship with BancorpSouth, as they have been so supportive of the symphony family," Dean said. "We appreciate the support they have given to the university over the years and now, more specifically, to the university's symphony."

Ticket information for the 2003-04 symphony season is available through the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425. Tickets may be ordered online at

For more information, call the symphony office at (601) 266-4001 or visit online at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM