02/09/01 Symphony

Classical concert to include buckaroos and cowgirls

The music of the American West with nods to Hollywood and Broadway will fill the air at the next Tupelo Symphony Orchestra concert.

“Some of the music comes from the movies, some of it comes from classical music and some comes from Broadway,” said Jay Dean, who will be guest conductor. “All of the music will be about the West or reflective of the West.”

The performance at West Jackson Baptist Church will re-team Dean with Oxford vocalist Nancy Maria Balach (rhymes with polish).

“She and I did a pops concert together in Lafayette, La.,” said Dean, music director and conductor of the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. “I enjoyed working with her and I’m looking forward to this performance.”

Dean will be making his Tupelo debut, but fans of the Tupelo Symphony will recall Balach from last year.

“I performed at the Civic Auditorium last year for the all-Gershwin program,” Balach said. “They asked me to come back to do some more numbers in this Broadway program that has a western flair.”


In his role with the USM Symphony, Dean regularly works with the USM Opera Theatre and Ballet Mississippi.

He has guest conducted orchestras across the country as well as Mexico and France. Dean has also worked with such talents as famed violinist Itzhak Perlman and former “Tonight Show” band leader Doc Severinsen.

In addition, Dean has worked with Louis Lane, musical director of the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra.

Balach teaches voice at the University of Mississippi while keeping up a fairly rigorous performance schedule.

“So many weekends out of the month involve traveling,” she said. “This summer I’ll spend three months with the Ohio Light Opera.”

A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music in New York, she has performed with symphonies from across the United States as well as the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, Florida Grand Opera and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

“Ever since I was very, very young, I loved singing,” she said. “When I was an undergraduate, I decided I wanted to sing classical music. It’s so challenging.”

Getting the sound

Before his Tupelo debut, Dean will have only a couple of rehearsals to get all of the musicians on the same page. In order to do that, he has been studying the music to get the feel for it.

“You spend lots of hours looking at the music, internalizing the music, becoming familiar with it,” he said. “It’s a lot like what an actor does with a script. You want to understand all the nuances.”

Balach will be performing selections from “Annie Get Your Gun” that she’s never sung before. She has rehearsed on her own, but she’s not completely confident with a song until she sings it for someone else.

“You always want to have a pair of ears you can trust,” she said. “What you hear as a singer is different from what the audience is hearing.”

That said, Balach has confidence that all the elements will come together for the upcoming performance.

“We’ll be getting everything together during the rehearsals. It’ll be fun,” she said. “I’m looking forward to performing at (West Jackson Baptist Church). It’s a great facility. It’s visually pleasing and, acoustically, it’s especially good.”

Dean said the western theme of the show, which includes classical compositions, movie themes and Broadway standards, will entertain all sorts of music lovers.

“There’s something for everyone,” he said. “It will be an uplifting evening.”

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