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Mississippi College

Mississippi College Hosts James Sclater Chamber Music Series

August 12, 2013

Mississippians are invited to the James Sclater Chamber Music Series that will bring gifted artists to the Mississippi College campus for performances beginning in early September.

The four concerts during the university’s 2013-14 academic year are a tribute to Dr. Sclater, who retired in 2010 after 40 years as an award-winning Mississippi College music professor and composer. The Clinton resident has written more than 125 works with his music heard throughout the United States and Europe.

“This will be another great year of programming with varied offerings to delight every taste,” says Angela Willoughby, who chairs the MC Music Department.

A new group, the Mockingbird Trio, will open the fall concert season with a September 6 performance at the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall.

The talented trio consists of MC music professors Ben Williams, and his wife, Emily, who’s a violinist with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and longtime symphony musician Bennett Randman of Jackson. The group will play classical selections by Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Bach and Bartok, among others. The Friday evening concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

It marks the Mockingbird Trio’s first major performance. “It’s going to be fun for us. We hope to play for years and years,” says Ben Williams, a Clinton resident who serves as assistant chairman of the Music Department.

Audiences in Central Mississippi may have seen Williams on bass, Michael Rushing on drums, and Sclater on piano in the Clinton-based Brick Street Trio. The lively jazz music ensemble regularly performs in the Jackson area. The group will be featured at MC’s Welcome Week for new students in late August. Williams is a former composer-in-residence with the Ohio State University Orchestra.

Patrons attending the Sclater series are in for a rare treat when the second concert occurs on October 24th. The performance celebrates the Mississippi musician’s 70th birthday. The evening’s guest artist will be harpist Elaine Barber, who comes with many connections to the Mississippi College family. Barber and other artists will play selections showcasing Sclater’s music. The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall.

Ben Williams, the MC composition professor who succeeded Sclater on the Clinton campus, will be among the many well-wishers that night. “I took his place at MC and we play together in the Brick Street Trio. He’s been a mentor to me and everybody else around town.”

The Mobile, Alabama native is one of the notable figures in the South’s music scene. He played in the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra from 1971 through 2000 and performed in the classical duo LYRICAS in the Jackson area for years. “For over 40 years, Jimmy Sclater has been an integral part of the musical life of Mississippi,” Willoughby said. “As a composer, his compositions have touched the lives of so many.”

The final two shows of the Mississippi College series this season are booked for 2014. There’s a February 28th concert dubbed Keyboards in the Chapel. The show at Provine Chapel will feature MC organist Robert Knupp and musical artist Rachel Heard. The 4th concert on April 11, “Vivaldi’s Spring” will spotlight classical musician Marta Szublowska. The venue is the Williams Recital Hall. The last two concerts also start at 7:30 p.m.

The Williams Recital Hall seats a little over 200 people, so organizers of the James Sclater series advise patrons to purchase their tickets as soon as possible.

Sponsored by the MC Department of Music, the four-concert series costs a total of $60. Ticket prices for adults are $20 for individual concerts. Students from Mississippi College, and other institutions, from elementary school through the college level, pay $5 per concert.

For more information, contact Dottie Serio of the Music Department at 601.925.3440 or Serio@mc.edu.