Bright Horizons’ for MSO with international guest, improv fun

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‘Bright Horizons’ for MSO with international guest, improv fun
Clarinetist/composer Kinan Azmeh charms in his first Mississippi visit

Jackson, Mississippi  – Sept. 19, 2022 — The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra launches its flagship Bravo Series, presented by the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation, on Saturday, October 8, 7:30 p.m. at Thalia Mara Hall. Renowned clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh, praised as “intensely soulful” by The New York Times, takes the solo spotlight in this “Bright Horizons” concert, shining in a work that has taken him around the world.

The Syrian-born guest artist, whose appearances have ranged from the Opera Bastille in Paris to Tchaikovsky Grand Hall in Moscow and Carnegie Hall in New York City, makes his Mississippi debut with his Suite for Improvisor and Orchestra.

Jazz, Arab and classical influences thread through the suite, “a fun piece in three movements,” as Azmeh described it. “This is the piece I really have performed the most in my life.” Storied passages combine rhythms of his New York City base, his Syrian upbringing, and “the pleasure of spontaneous interaction” that improvisational performance brings.

“They’re going to hear my thoughts, channeled through my instrument, and hear the thoughts even of those in the orchestra who are not improvising, but interacting,” said Azmeh about the work which explores his ever-expanding concept of home.

The lively evening continues a tightly constructed season with a pairing of Claude Debussy’s Two Movements from Ibéria and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, which features Concertmaster Shellie Brown Kemp. The program will nudge listeners to make connections between Debussy’s nearly century-old work tapping Moorish influences on the Iberian Peninsula, The Arabian Nights inspiration behind Scheherazade from 1888, and Azmeh’s contemporary classic. “So, it’s all a piece — all about the same world,” as seen from three different nationalities and viewpoints, said Maestro Crafton Beck.

“It’s the approach that I’m using, as we bring more new music to the orchestra — to tie it to current repertoire,” continued Beck. “The old masterworks, like Scheherazade and Ibéria hopefully will now have so much greater depth, because we’ve paired them with a new piece of music. One piece informs the other.”

Azmeh’s fun and highly engaging suite, which also incorporates downstage flair from MSO percussionists Bud Berthold, Anne Berthold, Bruce Golden and Jason Mathena, sets the tone for the season, Beck said. “The magic will start to happen!”

Tim Coker, emeritus professor of music at Millsaps College, will present a free pre-concert lecture at 6:45 p.m. on the mezzanine at Thalia Mara Hall.

Individual tickets for the Bravo concert start at $29 for adults, and are $5 for kindergarten through college students (with valid student ID). Visit for ticket orders, information and series subscription details. The box office will open at Thalia Mara Hall at 6:30 on the evening of the concert. This season is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency.

What: Bright Horizons, MSO Bravo Series concert

Who: Mississippi Symphony Orchestra

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 8, 2022

Where: Thalia Mara Hall  255 E. Pascagoula St. Jackson