September 17, 2014  

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Alumni Return for Symphony Orchestra Opening Night Sept. 23

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Adonis Gonzales

The opening night of The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s 91st season will be an evening of celebrations.

Two Southern Miss alumni and renowned musicians are returning to perform with the Symphony Orchestra on Thursday, Sept. 23 to kick off the opening of its latest season titled, “Timeless.”

Internationally acclaimed Cuban pianist Adonis Gonzales and award-winning composer James Sclater will present another spectacular classical program with the orchestra. Sclater will present the world premiere of “Celebrations” at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium.

"The orchestra has hosted musical icons from all over the world, but it's always exciting to have artists with a history in our community return to share their talents," said Dr. Jay Dean, music director of the Symphony Orchestra.

Gonzales has collaborated with legendary artists such as mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, violinist Arnold Steinhardt and clarinetist/saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera. Presently, he is a professor at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey and is also studying Orchestral Conducting at The Juilliard School in New York City.

A review from the Cuban Music Recital in El Sol de Mexico, Mexico City attests to Gonzales’s signature style by concluding that “Gonzales’s rendition of the Cuban classics was characterized by an incredible virtuosic approach, and a very contagious rhythmic precision.”

“We continue to bring the world to Mississippi not only through our artists but through our students. To have these two alumni who have achieved such international acclaim is a double treat and a great way to open our season during the Centennial,” said Dean.

For the last 40 years, Sclater taught theory and composition at Mississippi College as a professor of music and coordinator of music theory. As a talented composer and professor, Sclater has won various award including Composer of the Year in 2002 by the Mississippi Music Teachers Association and an Emmy nomination for musical score for Mississippi ETV production “The Mad Potter of Biloxi: George E. Ohr” in 1994. He was commissioned to compose “Celebrations” by Dean in 2009.

“It’s a full orchestra and I hope it expresses Jay’s intent, which was to create something for the orchestra to celebrate the University’s Centennial and something the orchestra would have fun doing,” said Sclater, who played in the orchestra while a student at Southern Miss.

“’Celebrations’ is what I came up with; there’s something in it for all the sections, so I think they will have fun playing it.”

Tickets are $16, $18, $20 for the public and $10 for youths. For more information on “Celebrations,” contact the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra at 601.266.4001.