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2019-20 Season

From Russia With Love

Michael Miles, conductor

Petronel Malan, piano

November 7, 2019, 7:30 p.m. | Bennett Auditorium 

Opening night at the symphony provides the power and passion of music from Russia.  Three Russian favorites – Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky – will excite, move and romance you into the night.  South African concert pianist, Petronel Malan, described by the New York Times as “formidable…dizzying…magical,” joins the orchestra in Rachmaninoff ’s most famous and beautiful work for piano and orchestra.

  • Reinhold Glière - Russian Sailor’s Dance from The Red Poppy
  • Dimitri Shostakovich - Festive Overture
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
  • Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky - Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture



Petronel Malan

Petronel Malan



Lauded by reviewers as an unmistakably creative force in the classical music industry, South African pianist, Petronel Malan’s critical acclaim culminated in the nomination of three Grammy® Awards, including “Best Instrumental Solo Album” for her debut disc. Malan’s career was launched following five gold medals at international piano competitions throughout the United States, and now, she maintains a full performance schedule as recitalist, orchestral soloist and chamber musician in major venues throughout the world.



Holiday Choral Spectacular

Michael Miles, conductor

Greg Fuller, conductor

Jonathan Kilgore, conductor

December 3 and 5, 2019, 7:30 p.m. | Main Street Baptist Church

Your Symphony Orchestra is joined by The University of Southern Mississippi Choirs, the Hattiesburg Civic Chorus, and Hattiesburg area high school singers as they collaborate in our annual holiday community celebration!



Isn’t It Romantic

Apo Hsu, conductor

Alexander Russakovsky, cello

February 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m. | Manonni Performing Arts Center

One of the most dynamic conductors of our time, Ms. Apo Hsu, returns to guide the orchestra in an evening of music from the Romantic period.  Ms. Hsu’s last appearance with the orchestra in 2014 was a critical success, and this program is sure to excite the musical novices and purists alike with lush, rich, beautiful romanticism.  Southern Miss School of Music cello professor, Alexander Russakovsky, will also join the orchestra to perform one of the period’s great cello solo works.


  • Giuseppe Verdi - Overture to La forza del destino
  • Piotr Illyich Tchaikovsky -Variations on a Rococo Theme in A major, Opus 33
  • Johannes Brahms - Symphony No. 2  in D major

Apo Hsu

Apo Hsu


“She generates electricity from the podium in two directions: into the orchestra and into the audience.”

A dynamic force in the music world, Taiwanese conductor, Apo Hsu has circled the globe with an international career encompassing a wide array of guest appearances, residencies and tour performances. In the United States, she has appeared as a guest conductor with major national orchestras from coast to coast, including the San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.) and many others. She appears regularly on concert stages in her native Taiwan, including recent guest appearances with the Kaohsiung City Symphony Orchestra and National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra.

Alexander Russakovsky 

Alexander Russakovsky



Southern Miss School of Music faculty member, Alexander Russakovsky, is one of the South’s leading performers and pedagogues on cello. He studied at the Leningrad Conservatory, under renowned Russian professors, Emmanuel Fishman and Anatoli Nikitin. He earned his Bachelor of Music at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and his master’s degree at the Yale University, where he studied under Aldo Parisot. He holds a doctorate in cello performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A founding member of the Jerusalem Academy String Quartet, Russakovsky has performed with the group throughout Israel, as well as in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and France.

A recipient of many awards, he won the Angela and Maurice M. Clairmont Competition in Tel Aviv, the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation Competition in Santa Barbara, and the 1999 Career Grant of the Esperia Foundation.




Showbiz!: A Century of Showtunes 


Mike Lopinto, director

Michael Miles, music director

March 12, 2020, 7:30 p.m.

The creative team that created Showbiz! brings you the fourth and most entertaining production yet!  Joining our talented students will be School of Music alumni Ezekiel Andrew and Nikisha Williams, fresh from their recent roles in Ragtime and Hamilton.  This production will survey the musical theater song book to bring you a fast-paced review of the best show tunes from the past 100 years of musicals.

Call for Alumni: Join current SOM performers on stage for the finale of Showbiz! 



 Ezekiel Andrew

Ezekiel Andrew



With an active career in both opera and music theatre, alumnus Ezekiel Andrew has been seen in productions of both genres across the country. He is garnering nationwide attention for his portrayal of the character Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in the timeless classic, Ragtime. As a powerful and experienced “cross-over” artist, Ezekiel has performed theatre repertoire favorites on opera stages throughout the country including Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera with the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company; Quasimodo in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame with the Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre; and Bernardo in West Side Story with the Southern Mississippi Opera and Musical Theatre Company. Ezekiel is a proud native of Mississippi and currently resides in New York.

 Nikisha Williams

Nikisha Williams



Southern Miss alumna Nikisha Williams is a singer/actress originally from Mobile, Alabama. At Southern Miss, she had extensive training in classical singing and participated in many operas and musicals, including I Pagliacci, La Boheme, Smokey Joe’s Café, Sweeney Todd, and Ragtime.  In Memphis, she performed in Don Giovanni and Pagliacci at Opera Memphis, and Hairspray and Memphis at Playhouse on the Square, the latter garnering her a nomination for Leading Actress in a Musical at the 2016 Memphis Ostrander Awards and a win as Best Female Actor in her performance as Felicia Farrell in Memphis at the 2017 Diversity on Stage and Film Awards.

Nikisha is the winner of Season 12’s “So You Think You Can Belt” competition, held at the West End Lounge in New York City. She will also be featured in the next season of Articulate, where her story of fusing performance with her survival job will air on PBS. In September 2017, Nikisha joined the cast of the Broadway national tour of The Color Purple as a female swing and Celie understudy.  She is now part of the Hamilton Broadway (Philip Company) touring company, where she is part of the ensemble and understudies Eliza Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler and Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds.


Verdi Requiem

Featuring the Southern Chorale

Greg Fuller, conductor

March 31, 2020, 7:30 p.m. | Main Street Baptist Church

Guiseppe Verdi’s Requiem remains an unrivaled masterpiece and one of the most treasured choral works of all time. It is truly a work by which all other requiems are measured.  The Requiem was composed in 1874 to honor the passing of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian novelist, poet and patriot whose works helped influence Italian unification. In this epic work, operatic soloists join forces with a massive choir and orchestra to create an exhilarating emotional journey for listeners.

  • Giuseppe Verdi - Messa da requiem

 Danielle Talamantes

Danielle Talamantes



It’s not often that a fortunate operagoer witnesses the birth of a star!” critics hailed for Danielle Talamantes’ recent role début as Violetta in La traviata with Hawaii Opera. This past season also included performances as Mimì in La bohéme with Fairfax Symphony and a return to The Metropolitan Opera to reprise the role of Frasquita for their productions of Carmen. In addition, she appeared as a soloist in multiple classical masterworks, including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Faure’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, as well as Verdi’s Requiem with the National Philharmonic, among others.

Kirstin Chávez

Kirstin Chávez



Kirstin Chávez is considered one of the most riveting and significant performing mezzo-sopranos today. Her powerful voice, with its expansive range, the dramatic intensity of her acting, and her natural sensuality combine to make her an arresting and unique presence on the operatic and concert stages. Chávez’s Carmen has taken her all around the globe and into such celebrated venues as Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House and the Arena di Verona.

Jonathan Yarrington

Jonathan Yarrington



A native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, tenor Jonathan Yarrington is assistant professor of voice at The University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Yarrington was a member of the Dallas Opera Studio from 2011-14, singing nearly 100 performances in the title roles of their education and outreach productions of Doctor Miracle and Jack and the Beanstalk. In 2012, he made his main-stage debut with The Dallas Opera as the Messenger in Aida.


Kevin Short 

Kevin Short



Versatile American bass-baritone Kevin Short is thrilling audiences around the globe. In the United States, he has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington Opera, and Seattle Opera, to name a few. He has also appeared in concert and recital with the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, National Symphony, and Baltimore Symphony, among many others.



Night of a Hundred Stars

Featuring the William T. Gower Competition Winners

Michael Miles, conductor

plus a surprise guest conductor!

May 7, 2020, 7:30 p.m. | Bennett Auditorium


In this fitting conclusion to our Centennial Season, we honor the memory of William T. Gower, one of the most influential conductors of the USM Symphony Orchestra, by presenting the winners of the annual William T. Gower Concerto Competition in performance with the Symphony.  We end the season with dramatic, expressive and powerful Capriccio Espagnol by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov. This work, along with a surprise guest conductor, provides dynamic colors and textures in a finale worthy of our Centennial Season.

  • Morton Gould - American Salute

  • Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov  - Capriccio Espagnol

  • Concertos of the William T. Gower Competition Winners


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