For over a century, the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra has been bringing world-class entertainment to the Hub City, bringing incredible performances to very grateful audiences throughout the years.
Opening on Oct. 3, the USM Symphony Orchestra will begin its 104th season, which is a stellar accomplishment in and of itself. The USM Symphony Orchestra will present a concert each month, and season tickets and individual tickets are available for purchase now.
Dr. Michael Miles, the director of the Symphony Orchestra, believes that this year will be filled with more exquisite performances than ever before.
“We are once again pleased to bring you the very best in symphonic music as we continue our mission of education and community outreach,” Miles said. “This is a wonderful season of world-class guest artists, conductors, and music from all over the globe!”
Miles has an extensive background in musical and academic positions. Serving at Western Carolina University and Florida International University, Miles was the chair at Southeastern Oklahoma State University before becoming Director of the School of Music at Southern Miss six years ago. Miles is a strong advocate of arts and education in the community and is consistently serving youth and communities around the state and country by teaching them an appreciation of the arts and helping them develop their own artistic styles.
Throughout his career, Miles has served as musical director or conductor for over 175 theater performances which involved 50 different musical theater productions.
“Voyages” is the theme of the 2023-24 Symphony Season Series, and guests will be taken on an amazing journey of musical and performance delights. The premise of the “Voyages” theme is to give an exploration of music from all around the world, giving students and patrons of the arts a view into the multitude of musical styles that exist in our world. Audiences will be taken on voyages from Spain and Italy to Austria and Brazil, and several other stops in ports around the globe with the Latin vibes of South America, the stylistic music of Spain, and the immense power and expressiveness of the Austro-German symphonic traditions.
Amid those powerful performances, patrons will be treated to “music depicting pine forests in Rome, songs about lost love, and an opera inspired by the painting ‘The Adoration of the Magi.'” And of course, the holiday season is always traditionally greeted with the annual “Holiday Choral Spectacular.”
The season opens with the rhythms of South America under guest conductor Sarah Higino, director and conductor of the Projeto Volta Redonda Cidade da Musica which is one of the largest musical public programs in Brazil as it serves 4,500 students. The evening will be filled with plenty of Latin rhythms that will have everyone in the carnival spirit.
In November, “Amahl and the Night Visitors” will take the stage presented by the Southern Opera and Musical Theater Company. In this cherished opera for the Christmas season, Gian Carlo Menotti will tell the story of a shepherd boy, Amahl. who had a tendency to tell tall tales. Amahl regals his mother with a story about a star with a tail that blazed across the dark skies. Three esteemed strangers seek refuge at the home of Amahl and his mother. After the men tell of their search for an amazing and miraculous child, Amahl and his mother equally give reverence to the babe, and that sweet, humble faith develops into a miracle.
On Nov. 7, “Vienna to Venice” will be presented with Dr. Michael Miles and Carlos Fernandez serving as conductors. Chris Moore and Brian Walker will be on trumpets as Marcos Machado delights on the double bass. In this voyage to Vienna and Venice, the virtuosic “Nine Variants on a Theme of Paganini” by Frank Proto will be performed as will Mozart’s elegant “Eine Kleine Nachtmusic,” which is always a favorite of audiences everywhere. The concert will conclude with the incredible performance of two talented trumpet soloists, Dr. Moore and Dr. Walker. They will bring the rousing performance of Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Trumpets and Orchestra” which features some of Vivaldi’s most enchanting compositions.
The annual “Holiday Choral Spectacular” will be performed at Main Street Baptist Church under Dr. Gregory Fuller and Dr. Michael Miles as conductors. The sentimental holiday favorites will be performed by the choir and orchestra, featuring ensembles by the Southern Chorale, Southern Miss Concert Choir, and the Spirit of Southern, the Southern Miss pop a cappella ensemble that is comprised of area high school and middle school choirs. These beautiful performances will definitely have you in the Christmas spirit.
In February, you’ll journey to “Madrid to Rome” with Dr. Michael Miles as conductor and Italian flutist Andrea Oliva. Oliva is deemed as “one of the finest flute artists in the world.” She will join the orchestra in a performance of Joaquin Rodgrigo’s “Fantasia para un gentilhombre.” Also, the orchestra will be performing de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” and the very lively pictorial work, “The Pines of Rome” by Ottorino Respighi. The performance features the magical Roman pine tree settings of the Villa Borghese Gardens, the mysterious catacombs on the Janiculum Hill, and along the Appian Way.
In April, the phenomenal performance of “The Titan” will conclude this exquisite journey of music. Dr. Michael Miles will conduct as Southern Miss voice professor Dr. Taylor Hightower will perform Gustav Mahler’s “Songs of the Wayfarer.” This series of art songs form the basis of thematic material for the season’s monumental conclusion — Mahler’s ‘Symphony No. 1—The Titan. Accompanied by additional brass, woodwinds, and percussion, the audience will be treated to Mahler’s immense range of emotions in this epic final that will also be a “fond ‘bon voyage” to the music director on his retirement. This will be a monumental evening at the symphony.
It is a very beautiful thing that music has the power to bring together various people of different nationalities around the world. Music is such a powerful force, and that is seen as the USM Symphony Orchestra has brought the world together for over a century. It is a popular adage that the USM Symphony Orchestra is always “bringing the world to Mississippi,” and local audiences and patrons of the arts benefit greatly from these beautiful performances that the Symphony Orchestra consistently brings every year.
“As we travel the globe in search of great music, we invite you along on our journey in a season of great music,” Miles eloquently said. “We enjoy and appreciate the support we receive from our community and hope you will share your experience with friends, inviting them to join us for a concert or for the season.”
So set sail on an amazing “Voyage” of music from around the globe courtesy of the University of Southern Mississippi Symphonic Orchestra. It will certainly be a musical journey to remember.