April 22, 2019  

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Student Soloists Featured in Fun Evening with Southern Miss Bands

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The Southern Miss Wind Ensemble will present a concert with the Symphonic Winds on Tuesday, March 8. (Submitted photo)

The University of Southern Mississippi Wind Ensemble will present a concert with the Symphonic Winds on Tuesday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center Auditorium on the Hattiesburg campus. The concert is free and open to the public.

The program features three student soloists and a selection of music that “transcends time and space.” From Bernstein to Weber, the concert is sure to excite and move the audience.

“All of the student soloists are exceptional performers and musicians,” said Catherine Rand, Director of Bands. “The students competed in the fall of 2015 to have the opportunity to perform with the band this spring in the bands.”

The program opens with the Symphonic Winds under the baton of Andrew Hunter. They will perform Frank Ticheli’s Sanctuary, dedicated to legendary bandsman, H. Robert Reynolds. It features a simple melodic line, accompanied by a profoundly beautiful harmonic structure. The peaceful beginning gives way to a passionate climax in the middle.

Second, the Variations on Barnacle Bill, the Sailor, with the tuba soloist, Sam Dent. It takes the listener on a musical trip through the life of Barnacle Bill, with several recognizable nautical themes thrown in for good measure. The work explores the entire range of the tuba through a series of variations on the original theme and the soloist is given ample opportunity to put his mark on the performance.

Dent, a native of Clinton, Miss., is a tuba player majoring in mathematics with a minor in music. He has played with USM’s Symphonic Winds, Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble, and 5Cents Brass Quintet. Dent has also composed and arranged several works for the Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble and 5Cents. Dent aspires to be a “Mathemusician.”

After the intermission, the Wind Ensemble will take the stage opening with audience favorite, Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. An overture to the opera of the same name, the piece has become a perennial favorite for its bright, bubbly character and rapid fire energy.

Thereafter, the second student soloist, Mark Whitfield, takes to the stage to perform the Concerto for Trombone by composer Launy Grøndahl, as transcribed for band by Poul Ivan Møller. Inspired by the trombone section of the Orchestra of the Casino Theater in Copenhagen, this work is the Danish composer's most performed piece. Written during an Italian vacation in 1924, this challenging and dramatic work is as rewarding for the performer as it is for the listener. 

Originally from New Bern, North Carolina, Whitfield is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts in Trombone Performance and Pedagogy degree (with a minor in Jazz Studies) at Southern Miss. He is a student of Dr. Ben McIlwain, and is currently serving as the trombone studio graduate assistant. He has performed with a variety of different artists and ensembles, including symphony orchestras in both NC and MS, the NC Brass Band, the NC Wind Orchestra, the Andrew Thielen and Gil Harris Big Bands, The Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus band, Wayne Bergeron, Jeff Coffin, and most recently 7-time CMA “Musician of the Year” Mac McAnally and the Coral Reefer Band. 

Finally, the evening will conclude with Andante e Rondo Ongarese by Carl Maria von Weber, featuring bassoonist Melanie Ferrabone. Weber was born in Holstein, Germany in 1786. His careers as a composer, conductor, pianist, guitarist, and critic gave him great influence on the music of the day. His original Bassoon Concerto was well received, and requests came for another work for the instrument. Rather than starting from scratch, Weber chose to revise and edit a work for viola and orchestra that he had written in 1809. The Andante e Rondo Ongarese in C Minor for bassoon and orchestra made its debut in 1813.

Ferrabone is a native of Panama. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Music degree in bassoon performance. She plays principal bassoon in the USM Symphony Orchestra and the USM Wind Ensemble and has participated as an extra musician with the Mississippi and Meridian Symphony Orchestras and the Gulf Coast Symphony. Born in Panama, Ferrabone began her studies at the National Institute of Music with professor Daniel Agudo.

She has represented her country in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica with the Orquesta Juvenil Centroamericana and in the Alfredo de Saint Malo Festival. It was while attending the latter that she obtained a scholarship for her studies in the United States with Dr. Kim Woolly at USM. Ferrabone has won numerous awards since attending the University, and has been internationally recognized for her achievements as a bassoonist.