Sax to the max at MSO’s ‘Ultimate Fusion’

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Sax to the max at MSO’s ‘Ultimate Fusion’
Award-winning Project Fusion, monumental Shostakovich in the limelight

Jackson, Mississippi — Mississippi Symphony Orchestra thrills with a sweep of 20th century masterworks in the season finale of its flagship Bravo series, “Ultimate Fusion.” A stellar saxophone spotlight and Shostakovich’s profound and triumphant Symphony No. 5 are concert hallmarks, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson.

Acclaimed saxophone quartet Project Fusion takes the stage in Philip Glass’s world-renowned Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra, a 1995 work that quickly became a standard in concert repertoire. The passionate, prize-winning Project Fusion got its start with Eastman School of Music students in 2010 and continues to blaze a musically adventurous trail across genres that stretch from classical and jazz to pop and video game music. The ensemble also has a key Mississippi connection. Project Fusion founding member and soprano saxophonist Dannel Espinoza is in his fourth year as Assistant Professor of Saxophone at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

This concerto by American minimalist composer Glass marks a popular, if rare spotlight for an instrument still considered fairly new to the classical orchestra. “It’s the first major piece of his that we’ve done, and this is, for me, the greatest piece he’s ever written for orchestra,” said MSO Maestro Crafton Beck. “I’ve done two of his piano concertos, and I’ve done a lot of his ballet pieces … but this is just head and shoulders above all the rest.

“This is masterful. This is the best of Philip Glass. It’s gorgeous. It’s rhythmical. It’s just a brilliant piece,” Beck said.

The “Ultimate Fusion” concert opens with the engaging, picturesque sparkle of Anatoly Lyadov’s The Enchanted Lake, and closes with the awesome sweep of Dimitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.

“It will be a fun and a really powerful concert with the Shostakovich, which is of course always a fan favorite,” said MSO President and Executive Director Jenny Mann. The symphony’s themes will strike a familiar chord with listeners, from their widespread use in everything from commercials to cartoons, but little can match the exceptional experience of its full force, live and in person at Thalia Mara Hall.

MSO’s Bravo Series is presented by the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation. 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.

What: Ultimate Fusion, MSO Bravo Series concert
Who: Mississippi Symphony Orchestra
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, 2024
Where: Thalia Mara Hall    255 E. Pascagoula St. Jackson