February 20, 2018  

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Famed Violinist Returns to Open Symphony Season

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Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg (photo by Christian Steiner)

When Dr. Jay Dean takes to the podium to open the 93rd season of The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, it will be a much different group than the one he stepped in front of 25 years ago.

Dean, who is celebrating his silver anniversary with the Symphony, has led the orchestra to enjoy an international reputation that enhances not only the university, but also the state and region. The symphony regularly performs to sold-out houses with audience members representing a diverse cross-section of the southeastern United States. Dean’s recruiting efforts have turned the organization into a multinational conglomerate.

His vision has literally brought the world to Mississippi, including performances across the state with internationally known classical icons such as Plácido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Itzhak Perlman, and Yo-Yo Ma, to popular artists such as Doc Severinsen, The Pointer Sisters, Patti La Belle, Dionne Warwick and Sandi Patty.

To celebrate this anniversary, famed violinist and audience favorite Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg returns Oct. 4 for a gala opening night. Electrifying performances, fearless interpretations and musical depth have established Sonnenberg as one of the leading violinists of our time. Known not only as a remarkable performer, she has also hosted “Backstage/Live from Lincoln Center” for PBS and has been profiled on “60 Minutes” and for other national broadcasts. Salerno-Sonnenberg was also the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-nominated film, Speaking in Strings that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

“I am humbled by the generous support so many have shown this orchestra over the years and in particular, this year,” said Jay Dean, music director.  “So many students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends have worked hard to make this ‘little orchestra that could’ really soar. I am so grateful.”

Dean is a musical ambassador for Mississippi. In 2009, the State of Mississippi recognized his and the orchestra’s efforts with the Governor’s Award for Leadership in the Arts. Dean’s central mission is to provide life-changing experiences for his students and raise the quality of life in the community and state of which he is a part.

Limited tickets remain to the Symphony Silver Season Opening Night, Oct. 4 at 7:30 pm in Bennett Auditorium on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus. Tickets are $20, 30, 40 and available now from www.southernmisstickets.com or by calling the ticket office at 601.266.5418 or 800.844.8425.