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After an exclusive 2020-21 musical performance program limited to professors, staff and students at Mississippi College by the COVID-19 pandemic, community members across the state will be returning to the Clinton campus for a impressive list of concerts and recitals this fall.
Dr Benjamin Williams, chairman of MC’s music department, said he would be delighted to see the university’s concert halls, auditoriums and outdoor venues filled to capacity as students, faculty and teachers alike. guest artists offer a cornucopia of auditory pleasures, harmony orchestras, ensemble pieces and organ recitals to worship standards, opera arrangements and symphony numbers.
âOur musical performances have been one of our main connections to the community,â said Williams. âMany times we end up being the face that Clinton knows about Mississippi College. Whether it’s our jazz band performing on Brick Street or the Festival of Lights, we’ve become a point of connection between the community and the school.
âMusic is all about bringing people together, and we’re proud of that role. “
While the musicians could still perform in front of limited gatherings at Christian University, Williams said their experience was paltry compared to an auditorium filled with community members and friends.
âIt’s helpful for the artists themselves to have immediate feedback from a diverse audience with a lot of people,â he said. âIt really amplifies the experience. It’s difficult to play without an audience.
Williams is said to have personally helped kick off the fall program on September 23, when his ensemble New JXN was scheduled to perform in the Aven Fine Arts Building, but that performance has been postponed. Information on the time, date and location of the rescheduled performance will be published as it becomes available.
Williams plays bassoon for the group, which includes Tyler Kemp on keyboard, Shellie Kemp on violin, Adam Almeter on trombone, Amulet Strange on flute, and Ken Graves on clarinet.
Williams said the ensemble performs contemporary classical music and moves on to popular styles. The band will also play music composed by Williams himself. The group is made up of MC teachers or members of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.
âWe are trying to create music or play music that is an exciting addition to classical music,â he said. âWe present a kind of fresh take on what classical music could be. “
Dr. Robert Knupp, MC Music Teacher, will give a pipe organ recital, âAncient Synthesizer,â at 9 pm Tuesday, October 12, at Provine Chapel.
âIt’s going to be a very different kind of program,â Knupp said. “There won’t be any ‘classical’ music in it.”
Instead, he plans to wow audiences with more contemporary favorites, from Queen’s âBohemian Rhapsodyâ and Wham’s âCareless Whisperâ to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s âFree Birdâ and Led Zeppelin’s âStairway to Heavenâ.
The playlist is from a series of social media videos that Knupp posted throughout the pandemic. He has amassed over 75,000 views performing rock music classics on the organ.
The Worship Collective, a group of MC students majoring in music and other disciplines, will meet to conduct a âNight of Worshipâ at 7:30 pm Tuesday, November 9 in the Chapel of First Baptist Church.
âThey will be presenting cult music that would be familiar to the audience, but they will also be presenting original music that night,â said Williams.
The following afternoon, MC Music Teachers Tyler Kemp and Sarah Pigott will conduct the student performances of âOpera Scenesâ at 3:00 pm in the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall in the Aven Fine Arts Building.
Students will cover scenes from six operas in English, Italian and French, ranging from “Dido and Aeneas” by Henry Purcell to “Beatrice and Benedict” by Hector Berlioz to “A Little Night Music” by Stephen Sondheim.
Williams said one of the busiest musical events of the season is the Jazz Band Concert, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, in the Aven Fine Arts building.
âThey will perform a wide range of jazz music, from ‘old school’ swing to funk and pop arrangements, with improvisation and lots of energy,â said Williams. “It’s always a fun night.”
A more traditional group will take the stage at the Auditorium Swor at 7:30 pm on Monday 22 November, at Nelson Hall for the âConcert Symphonic Windsâ. Williams said that while their playlist has not been finalized, the group has already performed marches and arrangements of classic pieces.
The fall concert season at the MC will culminate with the Festival of Lights, a trio of performances scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, December 2-4, at the Provine Chapel. A long-standing musical tradition, each night of Christmas carols and songs played by candlelight, often on the piano and organ, helps usher in the Christmas season.
The Festival of Lights requires a ticket purchase, but all other concerts at Mississippi College are free to the public, with seating on a first come, first served basis. For more information on the schedule of fall performances, click on here.
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