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Released September 8, 2004

HATTIESBURG -- Mississippi teachers now have a new outlet for quality, budget-friendly educational arts events for their students. The University of Southern Mississippi has created the Mississippi Children's Musical Theatre, a program designed to educate and entertain students from second to sixth grade.

The inaugural 2004-05 season will offer programs that coordinate with state education requirements. The multiple events that make up the MCMT are produced jointly by the New Orleans Center for Dance and the university's Southern Opera and Musical Theatre, Symphony Orchestra, and Southern Chorale.

To make participation a simple process for teachers, the Symphony Orchestra staff will assist schools in planning their trip to the Hattiesburg campus.

"We have made this a 'one-stop-shopping' experience for teachers to incorporate these wonderful programs into their year's plans quickly and easily," said Dr. John Michael Lopinto, marketing and educational outreach coordinator for the orchestra. "Our office will coordinate tickets for the performances, optional lunches, and educational materials for each program."

With a variety of programming and scheduling options, MCMT gives teachers and school administrators more access to the arts. "The value of music to human learning has been shown over and over again," said Dr. Jay Dean, musical director for the Symphony Orchestra at Southern Miss. "The MCMT brings music to all of our children in terms they can understand and in ways that can enrich their lives."

Joining the university in this endeavor is the New Orleans Center for Dance, a leading force in arts education. Recently selected by the National Endowment for the Arts' Summer Schools in the Arts initiative for 2004, the CFD engages young audiences with exciting choreography and interactive programming.

For its portion of the program, Southern Opera and Musical Theatre at Southern Miss will present some of the greatest hits of opera classics, sung by dramatic Brünnhildes, battling divas, and egomaniacal tenors in the comic romp "So, This Is Opera Too!"

"Students will laugh their way through learning about opera," said Dr. Maryann Kyle, professor of music at Southern Miss and creator of MCMT.

The Symphony will feature its international performers by presenting a dynamic musical tour through the Hispanic cultures of the Americas. Student audiences will explore the driving rhythms and beautiful melodies of South American music and will learn its geography, people and culture.

Wrapping up the comprehensive arts experience, the Southern Chorale will present a program including all genres of music with a personality and style all their own.

According to Dr. Gregory Fuller, director of choral activities at Southern Miss, the program was designed to "encourage students to seek out their own voice and sing."

Teachers may contact the Southern Miss Symphony office Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at (601) 266-4001 or via e-mail at for more information.


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September 9, 2004 1:16 PM