MSO spotlights fresh voices, American classics

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MSO spotlights fresh voices, American classics
Poetry festival partnership connects music with Jackson’s literary legacy

Jackson, Mississippi — The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra’s flagship Bravo Concert Series continues with “American Constellation,” 7:30 p.m. November 4 at Thalia Mara Hall, wedding brilliant American classics with some of this country’s most resonant contemporary voices in music and poetry. In collaboration with Jackson State University’s 50th anniversary of the Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival, MSO’s program celebrates the legacy of festival founder Margaret Walker and fellow Black women artists who are a vital part of America’s cultural landscape.

The concert opens with George Gershwin’s jazzy An American in Paris and closes with Aaron Copland’s infectious Rodeo. In-between, a powerful and vibrant feature collection of music, poetry and song, poignantly share the full range of the American experience.

Award-winning composer/pianist Randy Klein and Broadway and Off-Broadway singer/actress Aurelia Williams return to Jackson to perform four Margaret Walker poems Klein set to song. They’ll be joined by the full orchestra and the Jackson State University Choir, Mississippi College Choir and Rust College Choir, for 100-plus voices giving full strength to the trailblazing poet’s words.

“It’s just thrilling to bring all this together,” MSO Maestro Crafton Beck said. “Just absolutely thrilling.”

Contemporary composer Jessie Montgomery’s mournful and mesmerizing Source Code, derived from Black spirituals, folds right in as it honors the past with a beautiful fresh take.

The concert is the closing event of the reconvening Phillis Wheatley Poetry Festival and further honors poets Alice Walker and Sonia Sanchez. Both were among original festival panelists in 1973 and now return as keynote participants paired with the next generation of leading Black women writers. At the concert, Jackson poet Amanda Furdge performs readings of Alice Walker’s “Remember Me?” and Sanchez’s “From a Black Feminist Conference: Reflections on Margaret Walker, Poet.”

MSO’s Bravo Series is presented by the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation and the “American Constellation” concert is sponsored by the Meyer & Genevieve Falk Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The season is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The on-site box office will open at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the concert and a free pre-concert lecture by Tim Coker, emeritus professor of music at Millsaps College, will be held at 6:45 p.m. on the mezzanine of Thalia Mara Hall.

Individual tickets start at $29 for adults, and are $5 for students, kindergarten through college (with valid student ID). Visit for advance tickets and information.

To find out about season tickets to MSO’s Bravo, Chamber or Pops Series, email or call 601-414-6005.

What: American Constellation, MSO Bravo Series concert
Who: Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, November 4, 2023
Where: Thalia Mara Hall.  255 E. Pascagoula St. Jackson