When Dr. Jay Dean takes to the podium to open the 93rd season of The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, it will be a much different group than the one he stepped in front of 25 years ago. Dean, who is celebrating his silver anniversary with the Symphony, has led the orchestra to enjoy an international reputation that enhances not only the university, but also the state and region.
The symphony regularly performs to sold-out houses with audience members representing a diverse cross-section of the southeastern United States. His recruiting efforts have turned the organization into a multinational conglomerate.
Dean’s vision literally has brought the world to Mississippi, including performances across the state with internationally known classical icons such as Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sir James Galway, Joshua Bell, Denyce Graves, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Roberta Peters, John Browning, Manuel Barrueco, Christopher Parkening, and Edgar Meyer.
He has also conducted concerts with major popular artists such as Doc Severinsen, The Pointer Sisters, Patti La Belle, Dionne Warwick, Patti Austin, Ricky Skaggs, and Sandi Patty. Dean has also guest conducted many orchestras in the United States, Latin America, and Europe.
This season is designed as an entertainment package and features the orchestra in its’ many facets. Famed violinist, and audience favorite, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, returns Oct. 4 for a gala opening night. The orchestra’s long-standing partnership with the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company continues with a special presentation of Die Fledermaus Oct. 16 and 19. Chamber orchestra performances on Nov. 1 and Feb. 14 dot the season and the popular Holiday Choral Spectacular returns Dec. 4.
A spectacular production of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd reopens the renovated Mannoni Performing Arts Center Auditorium Feb. 28 – March 3. The incredible Mahler Symphony No. 5 showcases the orchestra in grand style on March 28 and the season wraps up with one of the most popular concerts, Future Stars, this year, combined with a spectacular performance of Belshazzar’s Feast.
“In addition to the exceptional programming, special events are planned throughout the year,” said Dr. Mike Lopinto, pr/marketing and event Coordinator for the School or Music. “Initially, all season ticket holders are invited to an exclusive pre-season party at Longleaf Plantation. This is a great way to say 'thank you' to symphony patrons and honor Jay for his incredible accomplishments with the orchestra.”
Dean is a musical ambassador for Mississippi. In 2009, the State of Mississippi recognized his and the orchestra’s efforts with the Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts. Dean’s central mission is to provide life-changing experiences for his students and raise the quality of life in the community and state of which he is a part.
Season tickets are available at the Southern Miss Ticket Office, 800.844.8425, 601.266.5418 or www.southernmisstickets.com. To attend the pre-season party, season tickets must be ordered prior to Aug. 31. For more information, call 601.266.4001.