By MATT CRANE
The sounds and images of space exploration take center stage Thursday as the Starkville-Mississippi State University Symphony presents its “Space Music” concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Rent Auditorium on the Mississippi University for Women campus.
Selected by symphony conductor Michael Brown, the program will feature the “Star Wars” theme song, the “Jupiter” movement from the Holtz composition “The Planets,” “Pezzo Capricioso” by Tchaikovsky and “Double Cocerto for Violin and Symphony” by Bach.
Brown said the goal for the children’s concerts is to engage children from Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties in the extracurricular idea of music.
“This year we are focusing on the solar system and space exploration and finding a way to connect the music with those studies,” he said. “We’ll perform four times before the evening concert and expose over 3,500 students in Columbus and more than 1,200 in Starkville to the symphony.”
Brown said he is grateful for the program for children and the opportunities it gives area students to expand their knowledge not only in the classroom, but in life as well.
“There will be children that will be seeing a symphony orchestra maybe for the first time and that’s important,” he said. “Aside from the studies that say music makes you smarter, I think it makes you a better human being.”
Brown said 10 Suzuki-trained soloists will perform with the orchestra during the Bach composition and guest cellist Griffin Browne will be featured on Tchaikovsky’s “Pezzo Capricioso.”
Brown said the concerts represent the symphony’s mission to not only entertain and educate the community now, but hopefully create interest for future musicians.
“We hope that we’re giving back to the community,” he said. “More importantly, however, we’re making an investment for the future.”
Director of the program for children Joe Ray Underwood said the symphony’s 30-minute “Space Music” concert for students will be expanded into a longer show for the evening performance, and said he is thankful from the support the symphony has received from National Endowment for the Arts, the Mississippi Arts Commission and the community as a whole.
“We have received a lot of support from the community and the university,” he said. “We’re now able to invited every child in Oktibbeha County that wants to come and we’ve had to limit seating at our events because of the overwhelming response.”
An art contest for children kindergarten through sixth grade will take place before the concerts with winners garnering prizes from the Downtown Book Mart and Cafe in Starkville.
Underwood said professional images from space provided by NASA and the Hubble Telescope will be interspersed throughout the concert on a projector along with the art work from the children.
“The children have drawn their impressions of space exploration and the planets,” he said. “It has been fascinating to see the creativity of the kids.”
Underwood, echoing Brown’s sentiments on the impact the concert can have, said the symphony has been providing programming for children since the mid-1970s and is excited about the doors it continues to open.
“It is really neat to see the children light up and get excited,” he said. “Some of them will actually be inspired to learn how to play an instrument, and we might have some future composers in those audiences.”
Underwood said Starkville residents interested in traveling to Columbus for the evening concert can contact Barbara McLauren to reserve a place on the MSU shuttle bus schedule to transport residents to and from the concert.
Underwood said the bus will depart from the Lee Hall parking lot at 6:15 p.m. and return immediately following the 7:30 p.m. program in Rent Auditiorium on Thursday.
To reserve a seat, call 662-323-6182 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .