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Accomplished Music Students to Perform with Mississippi Symphony Orchestra Members at MC

Dr. Craig Young, right, MC band director, will serve as a conductor during the MC Music Honors Concert 2022.
Dr. Craig Young, right, MC band director, will serve as a conductor during the MC Music Honors Concert 2022.

Seven exemplary students in the Department of Music at Mississippi College will showcase their emerging skills by performing with members of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra during the MC Music Honors Concert 2022 at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, in Swor Auditorium in Nelson Hall. The event is free to the public.

The biennial concert provides an exciting and rare opportunity for the students to perform with an orchestra, according to Dr. Viola Dacus, MC associate professor of music.

“For most of them, this will be their first time doing that,” Dacus said. “The students involved in the concert are upper-level or graduate students who exhibit outstanding performance abilities.”

Dr. Craig Young, MC band director and MC Music Honors Concert 2022 conductor, said the audience members should expect to hear some “amazing” classical music.

“Our students performing incredible music along with these outstanding musicians is not something that happens very often,” Young said. “Our students are lucky to have this opportunity.”

Even for students as accomplished as Eugenie Salvant, a junior psychology major and music minor from New Orleans who is principal trombonist for MC’s Symphonic Winds, Jazz Band, and Brass Quintet, performing in the concert represents a significant achievement.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to show off all my hard work to my family and friends,” said Salvant, who will be performing “Morceau Symphonique Op. 88” by Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911). “I am excited to share my love for music and my instrument with others.

“I am most looking forward to performing and hearing other talented music students sing and play their hearts out on stage. I am very thankful to be surrounded by a group of students that share the same type of love and work ethic for music.”

As the only freshman selected to perform in the concert, Claire Copeland, a biology and medical sciences major and music minor from Birmingham, Alabama, described the opportunity as a “huge honor.”

“The experience of the Honors Concert gives me the opportunity and privilege to perform with a group of professional musicians, something I never thought I’d be able to do,” said Copeland, a flutist who will perform “Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3 Allegro” by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741). “I am so excited to perform a concerto like this, and I am really looking forward to the performance experience itself.“

Since the 2020 performance was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Friday night’s event will be the first MC Music Honors Concert most of the students have witnessed, Young said.

“It will be something completely different for them – they don’t know how amazing it is,” he said. “It’s a transformative experience, standing in front of an orchestra and performing.

“For some of these students, this may be the only time they get to do this.”

The student performers were nominated by their professors in the MC Department of Music to audition for the concert. A panel of judges, including Phyllis Lewis-Hale, assistant professor of music voice and director of opera/musical theatre at Jackson State University, and Ken Graves, Albert E. Davis Memorial Chair and principal clarinetist for the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, selected each participant.

Dacus said the student vocal artists will sing arias from operas or operettas that are traditionally performed with an orchestra.

“Usually, this is repertoire that they would learn in their lessons and would ordinarily only have the opportunity to perform with piano accompaniment,” she said. “To be able to perform these arias as the composer intended – with an orchestra – is a wonderful opportunity for them.”

In addition to Copeland and Salvant, MC students scheduled to perform during the concert include:

Mitchell Whisonant, senior music education major from Atlanta, tenor: “Dein ist Mein ganzes Herz” from “Das Land des Lachelns” by Franz Lehar (1870-1948)

Ambriehl McCoy, senior vocal performance major from Brandon, soprano: “Deh vieni, non tardar” from “Le Nozze di Figaro” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Sallie Kaye Taylor, graduate vocal performance and pedagogy major from Madison, soprano: “Mein Herr Marquis” from “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)

Annalee Crawford, senior vocal performance major from Madison, soprano: “Ain’t it a Pretty Night” from “Susannah” by Carlisle Floyd (1926-2021)

Mark Robinson-Payton, graduate vocal performance and pedagogy major from West Monroe, Louisiana, bass-baritone: “Non Piu Andrai” from “Le Nozze die Figaro” by W. A. Mozart

Dr. Edward Dacus, MC associate professor of music, also will serve as a conductor for the concert. As an added treat, the MC Music Honors Concert 2022 will include the world premiere of “Tales of Mr. Fox,” an overture by Dr. Benjamin Williams, chair of the Department of Music and an associate professor of music at MC.

For more information about the MC Music Honors Concert 2022, visit