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Southern Miss Bands Celebrate Mississippi Musicians’ Month

Mon, 02/26/2024 - 09:47am | By: Mike Lopinto

Mississippi Musicians Month

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) band program kicks off Mississippi Musicians’ Month with a series of free concerts in Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus March 4-7.

Mississippi’s musicians occupy a special place in the world of music. From writers to performers, Mississippi’s musicians have had a global impact, great and timeless music in one of the state’s primary exports.

A chief promoter of musicians statewide, USM alum Dr. James Brewer, who founded the Mississippi Musician’s Hall of Fame, coined the phrase “The Birthplace of America’s Music” will be honored at the March 5 concert.

“The School of Music represents the finest musicians and music educators that have had and are having a global impact,” said Dr. Colin McKenzie, Director of the School of Music. “This series of concerts, with the special honor to one of our own, state and world premieres, and featuring our best and brightest, is testament to the scope and impact our program has on the state, region and world.”

Opening the concert series on March 4 at 8 p.m., the University’s premier band, the Wind Ensemble, presents the 2024 winds, brass and percussion concerto winners in concert. Under the direction of Dr. Catherine Rand this concert showcases the winners of the band’s annual concerto competition. They represent the best of the best at Southern Miss and often progress into professional careers as performers, college professors, music educators across the nation.

The program includes “Concerto for Clarinet” by Martin Ellerby featuring Elias Anderson, clarinet with Dr. Cody Edgerton, conductor; “Saxophone Concerto” by Stephen Danker, featuring Juan Oviedo, alto saxophone in his own arrangement with DMA student, Kyle Aufderhar, conductor; “II Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Band” by Oscar Navarro featuring Gerby Keiny Guerra Galvin, Clarinet with Steven Cooler, conductor; and “Einstein’s Dream” by Cindy McTee with Aufderhar conducting his own arrangement.

On March 5 at 7:30 p.m. under the direction of Dr. Colin McKenzie, the Symphonic Winds presents another exciting performance featuring music with origins and inspiration from all over the globe. Dr. Brewer will be honored with a proclamation from the City of Hattiesburg and a plaque from the School of Music for his dedication to the musicians of Mississippi on this, the start of Mississippi Musicians Month.

Dr. James (Jim) Brewer received his BMEd., MEd., and EdD degrees from USM and spent many years as a band director, administrator, and special projects director in the public schools of Mississippi before joining the faculty at Mississippi College. Never straying far from his musical roots, Brewer always had a heart for those who have made Mississippi famous for its music while receiving little or no recognition for their work. In 1994, he founded the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame that has inducted more than 140 musicians into its ranks; and induction ceremonies still continue throughout the state.

With the establishment of the Hall of Fame and the two museums, he coined the phrase “Mississippi, Birthplace of America’s Music.”  The slogan has been on Mississippi car tags and signs placed at every major highway intersection leading into the state.

The Symphonic Winds program that evening includes “Slava!” by Leonard Bernstein; “The Old Boatman” by Florence Price; “Suite Provencale” by Jan van der Roost; “The Glory of the Yankee Navy” by John Phillip Sousa; “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morton Lauridsen; and “March and Cortege of Bacchus” by Leo Delibes.

Wrapping up the series on March 7, the Concert Band under the direction of Dr. Travis Higa. The program includes the Mississippi premiere of “Feather” by Danielle Fisher with Dr. Cody Edgerton, guest conductor; the world premiere of  “Autumn Verses” by Southern Miss alumnus, Alan Theisen;  “Courtly Airs and Dances” by Ron Nelson with master’s student Griffin Wilson, conductor; “In Memoriam” by John Philip Sousa; and “Fantasy on a Theme by Sousa” by Andrew Boysen Jr. 

Learn more about the Southern Miss School of Music. Learn more about University Bands.