OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Pride of the South Band has been rousing sports and music fans since 1928.
On Tuesday, April 24, fans will get an intimate look at the band when the Wind Ensemble performs the 12th annual Pride of the Band Benefit Concert.
The 7:30 p.m. event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts is free and open to the public. The public is also invited to attend a 6:45 p.m. reception in the Ford Center’s foyer. Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Pride of the South Band should call the UM Foundation at 662-915-5944 or the band office at 662-915-7390.
The concert is about much more than raising scholarship funds, said Nancy Frohn, a longtime Ole Miss band supporter and benefit chair.
“Our band is really good. No, they are great,” Frohn said. “But what people don’t realize is that many of these students are full-time students, full-time band students and full-time workers. They work because there’s not a lot of scholarship money available for band students.
“That’s where we come in. We put on this concert year after year so that people can come out for great music, but also to help us endow scholarships for these great students.”
Frohn launched the first benefit concert in Jackson 12 years ago and moved it to Oxford in 2007. The event has grown from more than 125 attendees with seven sponsors to more than 900 attendees and 120 sponsors. Among the sponsors is Lammons Fine Jewelry of Oxford, which donated a white-and-chocolate diamond pendent valued at $1,500. Anyone making a $10 donation to the band will have their name included in a drawing for the pendent to be given away the night of the concert, she said.
“Moving the concert to the Ford Center was the key to making this fundraising work,” Frohn said. “This building is beautiful and the acoustics perfect for the Wind Band.”
David Willson, UM’s director of bands, said he greatly appreciates Frohn’s commitment to the university’s band programs.
“When Nancy said she wanted to do something for the band, I simply stood back and let her. Nancy is a doer and her efforts are making a difference to a lot of students,” said Willson, who is wrapping up his 21st year at Ole Miss.
“Our students work hard and put in a lot of time for years before they get to the university. When people support these students, they feel good about their experience and stay with us.”
Frohn agreed, saying, “David has done such a fabulous job with the band. He not only continues to inspire students to come to Ole Miss for the great educational opportunity but to stay for the friendships, experience and leadership skills they will undoubtedly gain.”
Besides the 60-member Wind Ensemble’s performance conducted by Willson, the upcoming program will feature two soloists, both of whom are UM faculty members. John Schuesselin, trumpeter, and Nancy Balach, vocalist, will be featured on the jazz standard “Embraceable You.” Balach is also the featured soprano on the Frank Tichelli composition “Angels in the Architecture.”
The Pride of the South Band comprises students from diverse majors, including pre-med, criminal justice, engineering, journalism and music. Besides the marching band, several smaller ensembles and pep bands perform at various events. The band program offers competitive scholarships for students of every major.
For more information on the Ole Miss Band program call 662-915-7390 or visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/band/.