Last Thursday, the USM Symphony Orchestra opened its 96th season with a performance entitled “New Acquaintances and Old Friends.” The event called for best dress for its gala-style opening. Jay Dean, director of orchestral activities, announced the evening as a dazzling, first-class type of night.
“Similar to glamorous openings at the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Ballet, this is the Pine Belt’s chance to ramp up the glamour and enjoy a first rate musical evening with the incomparable Symphony Orchestra,” Dean said.
The program opened with the world premiere of “Nostalgic Dances” by Luigi Zaninelli, the in-residence composer, and “Radiant Dances” by Iowa composer James Naigus. “Nostalgic Dances” recollected the dance era of the early 20th century, featuring a moving foxtrot, waltz and polka.
USM horn professor Jacquelyn Adams made a stunning Mississippi debut, as the soloist for “Radiant Dances”—her newly commissioned piece.
After a short intermission, the evening closed with Symphony No. 1 in C minor by an “old friend”—Johannes Brahms. Dean conducted this timeless piece.
The 96th season, titled “World Wind,” indirectly previews what attendants can expect in the upcoming months.
“Every symphonic concert features wind or brass soloists,” Dean said. “Some of these performers will be students who come from different parts of the world including Mississippi, while others are globally renowned celebrity artists. Therefore, it seems that we should entitle the season something reflective of this unusual circumstance.”
Established in 1920, the USM Symphony Orchestra is the oldest in Mississippi and there are 13 countries represented in it by the performing students.