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USM School of Music Enrollment Approaching Record Numbers

Tue, 11/03/2020 - 13:03pm | By: Mike Lopinto

Mannoni Performing Arts Center

Mannoni Performing Arts Center

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music’s longstanding international reputation for excellence has reached another milestone. The 2020 fall enrollment has leaped nine percent to 430 undergraduate and graduate music majors.

Though hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary protocols it requires, the flagship music institution in the State of Mississippi is prioritizing musical and educational opportunities for professional and artistic growth. With a dedicated staff, and almost 40 full-time faculty members whose disciplines range from musicology, theory, education, conducting and musical performance, the School of Music is meeting the challenges of these enrollment gains to prepare our students to thrive as a 21st-century musician.

“While this semester is challenging in many new and different ways, our faculty and staff have worked very hard to properly prepare for our students,” said Dr. Jay Dean, Director of the School of Music said. “While we must navigate a variety of new landscapes, we will continue to offer a full spectrum of dynamic music classes, lessons, and ensembles of which the university, community, and state can be proud.”

In the middle of its centennial year, The Pride of Mississippi marching band announced its largest enrollment in many years. Up more than 13 percent from previous years, the group exceeds 300 members. Sustained recruiting efforts and the culture of incredible musicianship and camaraderie is once again drawing members from around the world to be part of this Southern Miss tradition.

While 62 percent are from Mississippi, the membership includes marchers from 10 different states, four different countries, 74 different towns in Mississippi, and 71 different majors. The incredible sound defines The Pride. Made up of 41 percent music majors, the world-renowned School of Music with rigorous audition requirements enhances the caliber of musician in its’ organizations.

“We are thrilled that we celebrate 100 years with this milestone enrollment marker” said Dr. Colin McKenzie, Associate Director of Bands and Director of The Pride.

Choral Activities has seen a 10 percent increase in enrollment this fall. Though having to postpone their enormous kick-off event this Fall, the Southern Invitational Choral Conference, to January, the larger choirs have been split into multiple units to accommodate COVID-19 precautions.

While their concerts will also be streamed online, the choirs will also participate in a recording project of Christmas Carols for the Budds Center for American Music Studies. All arrangements are by renowned American composer John Cheetham.

The orchestra is holding steady, which is remarkable given how many incoming international students who were impacted by their countries’ travel regulations to the United States. The Symphony season will be completely streamed in the fall as concerts are available to happen. Each will feature a smaller chamber orchestra as the entire orchestra is not allowed to meet together under current restrictions in concern for everyone’s safety.

The School of Music invested heavily in live streaming equipment to make as much of the incredible talent on showcase here available to the public.

“Our music students and alums are among the best in the world and I am honored to be able to continue to play a small part in our long and distinguished tradition of musical excellence” Dean concluded.

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