Eight performances set for Vicksburg International Chamber Music Festival

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 19, 2001

[03/19/01] The Vicksburg International Chamber Music Festival is another cultural tool that will attract people to Vicksburg, the event’s organizers say.

“The idea is not only doing something of high quality, but to give people another reason to come to Vicksburg,” said Dr. Jay Dean, an associate professor of music at the University of Southern Mississippi who helped develop the concept of a chamber music festival here.

Scheduled for April 22-29, the festival will feature eight performances at the Old Court House Museum, Crawford Street United Methodist Church, the B’nai B’rith Literary Club and Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal. Among the performers will be guitarists, harpsichordists, pianists and singers, all of whom will present programs of Spanish music in tribute to “The Majesty of Spain” exhibition now showing at the Mississippi Arts Pavilion.

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Dean said the music festival grew out of a conversation with Jack Kyle, director of the state agency that brought the collection of Spanish art objects to Jackson and owner of an art gallery in downtown Vicksburg.

“Jack has been a promoter of Vicksburg for some time,” said Dean, who toured the city at Kyle’s prompting last fall. The more he saw, “the more I became intrigued with the idea of doing a music festival there. It’s something I believe Vicksburg is a natural for.”

During subsequent visits to Vicksburg, Dean said he met with members of a core planning team representing local business and tourism. “Much to my surprise, they said, We think that’s a great idea.'”

Not only was “The Majesty of Spain” the catalyst for the festival, but that event should also help this one, attorney and planning committee member Bill Shappley said. “I think that it will be a big draw from that standpoint,” he said, attracting tourists who will eat at Vicksburg restaurants and stay here overnight.

The music festival will also appeal to locals, Shappley said, adding that “it is going to be a great event for Vicksburg, it really is.”

“It’s going to be the best chamber music festival that Mississippi has ever had period,” said Dean, who hopes to establish the event as an annual musical attraction. “Everything’s going to be beautiful.”

The festival lineup, with the April 26 program still to be announced, includes:

Pianist Michael Gurt, a professor and keyboard division chair at Louisiana State University, will perform April 22. A first-prize winner in the Gina Bachauer International Competition, he will present a varied program including Spanish composers of the early 20th century.

The Atlanta Virtuosi will perform April 23. The ensemble has a standard repertoire and has performed in most major cities in the United States, Europe and Latin America. The program will feature tenor David Ramirez in a program of Spanish songs and zarzuela arias.

Harpsichordists John Paul and Shaw Leopard will perform an all-Spanish program on April 24. The program will feature works by Gearndos, Albniz and other prominent Spanish composers.

From the University of Southern Mississippi, Trio Mississippi will perform April 25. Violinist Stephen Redfield, cellist Dieter Wulfhorst and pianist Mary Ann Stringer will present a Spanish program including various combinations of the three instruments.

Guitarists Natasa Klasine and Miroslav Loncar, natives of Croatia, will perform April 27. They have performed throughout the United States and Europe. The duo’s program includes uniquely arranged Spanish music.

Soprano Mary Ann Kyle and pianist Theresa Sanchez will perform April 28. They have performed together in the United States and France, and their program includes Luigi Zaninelli’s “The Battle for Vicksburg” as well as Spanish songs of DeFalla, Granados and Guastavino.

Argentine guitarist Roberto Aussel, winner of many international guitar competitions, will perform April 29. One of three guitarists chosen by the French government to play during Andre Segovia’s 90th birthday celebrations, Aussel was named a professor at the Hochshule of Cologne in Germany in 1994.