Ripley college student to perform operatic concert

By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – A concert Saturday at the Corinth Coliseum represents another milestone for operatic tenor Daland Jones of Ripley.

The 21-year-old University of Southern Mississippi senior is being presented in recital by the Black History Museum to celebrate Black History Month.

“We've had the most positive response in preparing for the program,” said museum president Betty Fry. “He's been a gracious young man and we’ve been impressed with him as an individual.”

Jones has been preparing half his life for a career on the operatic stage that he hopes will ultimately lead to performing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

He received early exposure to classical music at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ripley, where Jones said church pianist Leon Spight would direct Christmas cantatas.

“Music was just a big part of the church, and I've always been singing,” Jones said. “It was something within me naturally … Then, when I was about 10 or 11 I saw a telecast on PBS of The Three Tenors, and (Luciano) Pavarotti in “La Boheme,” I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

To continue his studies after majoring in vocal performance at USM, Jones is auditioning to transfer to a music conservatory. After his March 1 concert in Corinth, he’ll travel to New York to audition March 3 at the Manhattan Conservatory of Music. He recently returned from an audition at the San Francisco Conservatory.

“I would be going as a transfer for a bachelor's of music, then continue into a master's program if I’m able to get in,” Jones said.

“They said they'll let me know between mid-March and April 1 if I’m accepted.”

Youth, Jones said, has limited the roles he has sung thus far, though his experiences are wide-ranging and varied: training with Juilliard professor Daniel Ferro in Tuscany, Italy; performance in recitals in Italy and Spain; private coaching with Tony Luck of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music; performing in USM operatic productions, Mississippi Opera and the University Symphony Orchestra in Mandeville, La., and others.

“I'm so young I haven't performed roles considered suitable for my voice because my voice is still maturing,” he said. “I really won't have a lead role until probably age 26.”

Fry said the museum will use part of the proceeds from the performance to help Jones continue his music education.

“We also want children in the community to be exposed to a kind of music they usually don't experience,” Fry said. “We're giving free tickets to children at the Boys & Girls Club, Project Attention, the Lighthouse Foundation, senior citizens at the Bishop Center, children at the children’s shelter and high school music departments.”