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Partners for the Arts Announces Gala in Celebration of USM Symphonys Centennial

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 09:43am | By: Mike Lopinto

The creative team that brought you the “Atlantis” and “Shangri-La” galas will present a Partners for the Arts Gala in celebration of the renowned University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra's 100th Anniversary.

Set amid the enchanting wonders of Morocco, the event promises an affair as memorable as the one between the characters in the legendary film. The most exciting fundraising event of the year in South Mississippi, the Gala “Casablanca,” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019 at 7 p.m. at the Hattiesburg-Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport.

Partners issues a passport to mesmerizing art when underwriting art projects and student initiatives at USM — taking patrons to places they can only imagine.

“We are grateful to Partners for the Arts for hosting a Gala to kick off the USM Symphony Orchestra's year-long Centennial Celebration,” said Dr. Michael Miles, interim director of orchestral activities.

“Our Symphony Orchestra is a fixture in the arts community of the Gulf South region, and we hope all of those we have touched through our history of providing excellence in orchestral performances through the years will join us in this historic celebration,” Miles added.

“As the chair of the Gala, I have been overwhelmed by the excitement from our announcement revealing our “Casablanca” theme. This elegant evening will showcase our Symphony Orchestra in its 100th Anniversary. Art is too important not to share — you won't want to miss an evening you will surely remember as one of your favorite memories in Hattiesburg.” said Leigh Ann Underwood.

“With your support, the proceeds benefit our students at Southern Miss and help us attract and retain top-notch talent to our city," Underwood added.

 Gala Committees include:

  • Event Chair: Leigh Ann Underwood;
  • Events Hosts: Dr. Chris Winstead, Dr. Jay Dean, Dr. Michael Miles, Ron Hancock;
  • Event Designer: Dr. Mike Lopinto;
  • Event Decor: Nancy Leader, Dr. Mike Lopinto, John David Williams;
  • Food/Wine: Anita Murphy, Traci Rouse, Wes Rouse, and Sally Sullivan;
  • Sponsorships: Stacy Ahua, Cory Ferraez, Lisa Conn, Linda Boutwell Griffith, Amy Hinton, Dick Jordan, Millie Swan;
  • Patron Services: Jerry DeFatta, Lynn McMullan, Becky Montague;
  • Publicity: Jim Coll, David Gustafson, and Randy Swan.

Current member of Partners for the Arts, 2019-20 membership year, will get advance access to pre-sale tickets for the “Casablanca” Gala on June 1 thru June 22, before sales open to the public on June 23. The proceeds raised will bring vital funds and support to the arts programs at Southern Miss.

Join or renew your Partners for the Arts membership now to secure access to the pre-sale tickets. A sellout is expected for this very special centennial celebration, packed with some of the most dazzling experiences we've ever presented.

You may join or renew Partners for the Arts online by visiting If you have any questions, please call 601.266.5922. Gala Tickets will go on sale at $100 per person. Sponsorships and donations for the Gala are now being accepted until August 1.