May 25, 2019  

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University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Announces Passing of the Baton at 2018-19 Season

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The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Symphony Orchestra plans historic 99th concert season for 2018-19.  In the season, titled “Tribute,” the Symphony pays homage to a variety of composers, performers, conductors and cultures. 

With a renewed dedication to provide the very best in orchestral performances for our community and region, the orchestra transfers from the incredible leadership of Dr. Jay Dean to the interim direction of longtime collaborator, professor of music, Dr. Michael Miles.

“In my role as Interim Director of Orchestral Activities, I am dedicated to continuing the fine work of Dr. Jay Dean and his commitment to the highest quality of orchestral performances” Miles said. “We want to ensure that our talented students are provided the opportunity for a quality orchestral experience while sharing wonderful performances with our patrons and community.”

Dean, who recently retired amid many accolades as director of the orchestra and opera, is remaining with USM as Associate Dean for the Arts in the College of Arts and Sciences. In this capacity, he will have a more hands on role in helping the already dynamic arts program with a more global involvement. He is also excited to be able to enjoy the Symphony as an audience member.

“I am looking forward to having the opportunity to work with arts colleagues in addition to music” said Dean. “I am a huge fan of all of the arts and cannot wait to enjoy the wonderful experiences in store and find ways to support them all.”

This season, audiences will enjoy everything from Beethoven to Gershwin, and from Debussy to Bernstein. The season will also feature two outstanding School of Music faculty, Dr. Michael Bunchman on piano performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Dr. Marcos Machado on bass performing a new work from Chinese composer Tan Dun entitled Wolf Totem. The annual Future Stars concert, featuring the winners of the William T. Gower Student Concerto Competition, will pay tribute to the best student performers. Of course, the tradition of providing the community with a joyous celebration of the holiday season will continue with the Holiday Spectacular featuring the Southern Chorale and Hattiesburg Civic Chorus.
As part of the season, the Southern Opera and Musical Theater will present two light-hearted productions. In the fall, the Tony Award-winning The Drowsy Chaperone, a comedy that pays tribute to the roaring 20’s with one high-energy song and dance number after another, will take to the stage, crafted by the team that brought you the acclaimed Mary Poppins and The Phantom of the Opera. In the spring, Too Many Sopranos, an opera by contemporary composer Ed Penhorwood, fills the air with dynamic song. Based on the premise of there being too many sopranos wanting to get into the heavenly choir, this fast-paced opera satirizes all the stereotypes and musical styles in the operatic genre.

Season tickets are now on sale at the Southern Miss Ticket Office, 800.844.8425, 601.266.5418 or Individual tickets go on sale September 5, 2018.
See full season and descriptions below or at

The University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
99th Season 2018-19

Opening night!
Michael Miles, conductor
Michael Bunchman, piano
October 4, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., Bennett Auditorium
TICKETS 601.266.5418, 800.844.8425,

In the opening night gala, the Symphony pays tribute to the greatest American-born musician, Leonard Bernstein, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Tonight, we pay homage to Bernstein's contributions as a composer, performer, and teacher.  Featuring his own compositions, works that he loved to perform, and the final symphony he conducted at his beloved Tanglewood, we celebrate his legacy and that of the USM Symphony Orchestra's 99th season.

• Bernstein - Overture to Candide
• Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue
• Beethoven - Symphony No. 7

Michael Miles, music director
Mike Lopinto, director
October 25, 26 and 27, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., Mannoni Performing Arts Center
TICKETS 601.266.5418, 800.844.8425,

Winner of five Tony Awards, this Jazz Age musical is a loving send up to the roaring 1920s. Featuring side-splitting laughs and one show-stopping song and dance number after another, the team from last year’s The Phantom of the Opera presents a hysterical change of pace in the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company’s special, limited engagement performances.

Jorge Perez-Gomez, conductor
Marcos Machado, bass
November 8, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., Bennett Auditorium
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Exotic tunes and ancient culture musically intertwine in this exciting evening of music.  Guest conductor Jorge Perez-Gomez takes to the podium with Southern Miss faculty artist Marcos Machado on bass to ignite beautiful folk melodies and driving rhythmic sensations that will whisk the audience away on a musical journey.

• Tan Dun  - Wolf Totem
• Moncayo - Huapango 
• Revueltas - Sensemaya
• Marquez - Danzon No. 2 

Michael Miles, Greg Fuller and Jonathan Kilgore, conductors
November 27 and 29, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., Main St. Baptist Church
TICKETS 601.266.5418, 800.844.8425,

Your Symphony Orchestra is joined by The University of Southern Mississippi Choirs, the Hattiesburg Civic Chorus and Hattiesburg area high school singers as they collaborate in our annual holiday community celebration!

Michael Miles, conductor
February 28, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., Bennett Auditorium
TICKETS 601.266.5418, 800.844.8425,

Honoring the memory of William T. Gower, this annual concert celebrates the winners of the annual competition in performance with the Symphony.  The program will also feature more popular fare from the orchestral repertoire as the orchestra performs two works that are sure to please everyone's palate.

• Berlioz - Hungarian March from Damnation of the Faust
• Copland - Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo’

Rob Mulholland, director
Ivan del Prado, music director
April 4 and 6, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., Mannoni Performing Arts Center
TICKETS 601.266.5418, 800.844.8425,

Too Many Sopranos tells the tale of a group of sopranos trying to get into heaven, but there is no more room in the heavenly choir. Something has to be done, and it looks like some will be sent to hell! An opera in two acts in English by Indiana University Jacobs School of Music faculty member, Edwin Penhorwood, Too Many Sopranos features a myriad of songs from opera's various periods in a lovely, light evening at the opera.

Season finale!
Michael Miles and Gregory Fuller, conductors
April 30, 2019, at 7:30 p.m., Main Street Baptist Church
TICKETS 601.266.5418, 800.844.8425,

The Symphony Orchestra and the Southern Chorale join forces to present two haunting works based on themes associated with the night.  Beautiful, haunting and entrancing sounds emerge from the orchestra in works by Impressionist and contemporary composers.  When light fades the night truly comes alive in this evocative close to the season.

• Debussy - Nocturnes
• Kōrvits  - Moorland Elegies

For information about the Southern Miss School of Music, visit