Skip navigation

USM Symphony Musical Voyage Gets Underway

Mon, 02/19/2024 - 08:48am | By: Mike Lopinto

Madrid to Rome

The first concert of The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Symphony Orchestra for the spring semester features musical stops in Madrid and Rome. The season-long voyage commences Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus.

Dr. Michael Miles leads the esteemed orchestra in a program that also features internationally renowned flutist, Andrea Oliva and student winners of the William T. Gower Concerto Competition. Tickets are available at and through Eventbrite.

A pre-eminent flutist, Oliva has won awards and accolades all over the world, including being dubbed by Sir James Galway as “one of the best flutists of his generation, a shining star in the flute world.” Oliva comes to Hattiesburg from Italy where he teaches, performs and records. He holds positions in several orchestras and chamber ensembles while also performing as a soloist around the world. 

With the Southern Miss Symphony, he will play an arrangement of Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Fantasia para un gentilhombre(Fantasia for a Gentleman), a work originally written for the famous guitarist Andrés Segovia. This special arrangement was written by Galway, who has performed with the Orchestra three times.

The Symphony also features two of the annual William T. Gower Student Concerto Competition winners. Originally from the Netherlands, Jonathan Henneveld, a talented doctoral bass trombonist, performs a jazz-inspired concerto by Chris Brubeck. He is a student of Dr. Ben McIlwain, USM’s trombone professor.

Juan Oviedo, a doctoral alto saxophone student from Colombia, will perform a beautiful and entertaining work by Belgian composer André Waignein. He is a student of Dr. Dannel Espinoza.

The concert closes with one of the most effective pieces of programmatic music ever written - Respighi’s “Pines of Rome.” Beautifully depicting four settings of life and the landscape of Rome, audiences can visualize children playing in the Villa Borghese; the solemn and mysterious catacombs; the pines of Gianicolo Hill; and the powerful triumphal march to the Capitol.

“Even if you don’t know these settings the music is so expressive it will allow you to form your own story as you listen,” said Miles. “The addition of six ‘buccine’ brass in the final movement should cause chill bumps.”

In his final season before retirement as the conductor of the Orchestra, Miles dedicated the “Pines of Rome” to his wife, a horn player herself, who kept asking him to program the piece.  She insisted this be in the final season because it has always been a piece they enjoyed listening to and performing together.

Miles continued, “We share many great memories of this piece, so tonight, in my penultimate performance with the Symphony Orchestra, I dedicate this piece to my beautiful and always loving and supportive wife, Stacey.”

Learn more for tickets and information.