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Shakespeare Festival at Mississippi College Celebrates Forty Years

The Shakespeare Festival honors the legacy of the late English department chair George Pittman.

Mississippi College’s Choctaw Chorus will perform several madrigals set to the lyrics from William Shakespeare’s plays.

Conducted by music professor Mark Nabholz, the student choral group will soon be showcased at the university’s 40th annual Shakespeare Festival. So will national recording artist, singer/songwriter Claire Holley, a Jackson native who lives in Los Angeles.

Holley is billed as the guest artist at the April 21 production at the Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall on the Clinton campus. The concert begins at 7 p.m. that Saturday evening. Tickets for the concert are $10 for general admission, and $7 for all students, MC employees and senior adults.

Following the show, there will be a reception at the Aven Fine Arts Recital Hall lobby.

The live musical event honors the legacy of the late George Pittman, and his wife, Alicia. A 1959 MC graduate, George Pittman served for many years as chairman of the MC English Department. Passionate about Shakespeare’s literary works, the retired professor died in 2014 at age 76.

A 1960 MC graduate, Alicia Pittman worked at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson for 22 years. She now lives near Fort Worth, Texas and continues to be a strong supporter of the Shakespeare Festival in Clinton.

George and Alice Pittman founded the Shakespeare Festival at their alma mater in 1978. They returned to Mississippi College after working at Howard Payne University in Texas.

The Pittmans launched the Shakespeare Festival four decades ago to bring to life the works and culture of the Bard of Avon amid the Renaissance in England. Over the years, many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by students on the Clinton campus, most recently the comedy “Much Ado About Nothing,” at Swor Auditorium.

The Shakespeare Festival at Mississippi College is sponsored through the collaboration of three departments: English, communication and music.

Based in California, Claire Holley stays busy as a wife and mother. The successful recording artist is featured on at least a half-dozen albums with titles like “Dandelion” and “Sanctuary,” a record of hymns. In 2005, Claire teamed with award-winning Mississippi singer Caroline Herring to record an album titled “Live at St. Andrews.”

Holley is visiting Mississippi College for this joint production with the English Department’s Sue Price Lipsey Lecture Series.

For more information, contact MC communication professor Phyllis Seawright at 601-925-3453 or