Romantic rhythms pulse in MSO’s ‘Heart Beats’

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Romantic rhythms pulse in MSO’s ‘Heart Beats’
Movie tunes, pop hits, beloved classics set the tone for Valentine’s Day!

Jackson, Mississippi — The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra delivers a Valentine to fans in a swoon-worthy Pops concert “Heart Beats,” Saturday, February 10, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson. It’s a timely lineup of music to love — Beatles to James Bond, Titanic to Rhapsody in Blue, plus piano soloist Scott Cuellar to sweeten the draw — arriving just ahead of the most romantic holiday of the year.

“We felt like it would be fun to have a destination concert, and what celebrates love more than music?” said MSO President and Executive Director Jenny Mann.

“Heart Beats” taps favorites both current and classic. Concert openers include lush themes from Titanic by composer James Horner, John Williams’ “Across the Stars” (Anakin and Padme’s poignant love theme from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones) and Karl Jenkins’ sparkling Palladio, now indelibly linked to the sale of diamonds.

Joyous nostalgia joins the fun with some of John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s most beloved hits in “Love Is All You Need: A Tribute to the Beatles.”

Pianist Cuellar, a key MSO guest artist last season, returns for the solo spotlight in the gorgeous Andante from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, widely known as the Elvira Madigan concerto for its use in the 1967 romantic drama of doomed love. He’ll star in the concert finale, too, reveling in George Gershwin’s iconic, Jazz Age-defining Rhapsody in Blue, which reaches its centennial this year.

Praised for his formidable, virtuosic technique and expressive playing, Cuellar is eager to perform one of his favorite Mozart concertos with an orchestra for the first time, and to tuck into the quintessentially American Rhapsody in Blue.

“It’s big and it’s joyous,” Cuellar said of Gershwin’s most famous work. “It’s coming from a period of huge economic growth and prosperity, and the advent of the U.S. as the world power that it is and has been. It encapsulates that optimism.” The composers’ melodic brilliance makes their music a treat to listen to and a treat to play, he added.

Also featured are Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him;” a trio of 007 love themes from For Your Eyes Only, Live and Let Die and Goldfinger; the soul-touching “Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission, composed by Ennio Morricone; and Puccini’s emotionally sweeping “O mio babbino caro” and “Nessun dorma.”

“Heart Beats” shines a light on the core genius of this music at the instrumental level, without vocals or moving images to take away the focus. “It’s an opportunity to reimagine all of these works, and formulate your own storyline to that music,” Mann said.

MSO’s 79th 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.

Tickets for the “Heart Beats” concert are $29 and up for adults and $5 for students, kindergarten through college (with valid student ID). Visit for advance tickets and information. The Thalia Mara box office will open at 6:30 p.m. on the evening of the concert.

What: Heart Beats, MSO Pops Series concert
Who: Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 10, 2024
Where: Thalia Mara Hall     255 E. Pascagoula St. Jackson