50 years of Community Grown Music

The Starkville-MSU Symphony Association

Season Lineup

About the SSO

Since 1969, the Starkville-MSU Symphony has provided the greater Starkville area and the Golden Triangle with a true community grown experience of classical music. With the goal of introducing this vibrant genre to an audience reflecting the entire Starkville community, every concert has remained free and open to the public throughout the Symphony's entire 50-year history.

As a testament to the community's commitment to exceptional music, Starkville stands as one of the only cities of its size in the nation to support a continuing symphony orchestra for fifty years.

Each year the Symphony Concert Season showcase the talents of musicians from Mississippi State University, Starkville, and the surrounding communities, along with guest musicians from across the state.


Orchestra Founded

The Starkville-Mississippi State University Symphony Association was established March 2, 1969, in the home of David and Barbara Cornell.


Chorus Founded

The Symphony Chorus was organized in October 1972, and the first concert was performed February 10, 1973.


Children's Program Founded

The first program for children was presented October 2, 1975.


50th Season
September 15th, 2018
Milestones Concert
Symphony Orchestra
Rent Auditorium
Mississippi University for Women
at 7:30pm
The Fiftieth Season of the Starkville-MSU Symphony is an exciting milestone for our orchestra! Fittingly, our first concert offers works that were important milestones for their composers. First you will hear the overture to Nabucco, the opera that catapulted Giuseppe Verdi to national celebrity. Listen for the tune to "Va, pensiero" (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves), a chorus in the opera that remains one of the most powerful musical expressions of patriotism. Next, we move to the Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1, which was one of the first orchestral works (and arguably the finest) composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams after his early years collecting folk songs. It would remain one of his most characteristic expressions of Englishness in music. Finally, enjoy perhaps the crowning achievement of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's career, his Sixth Symphony! A work that he himself called "the best thing I have composed," it marks his hard-won mastery of symphonic craft.

Nabucco Overtureby Giuseppe Verdi

Norfolk Rhapsody No.1
by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Sixth Symphony
by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
October 9th, 2018
Jazz at Renasant
Symphony Jazz Combo
Renasant Plaza
500 E. Lampkin, Starkville, MS
In our annual outdoor concert, sponsored by Renasant Bank, the Symphony Jazz Combo brings toe-tapping favorites to Downtown Starkville with a selection of jazz, swing, and popular ballads.
November 9th, 2018
Family Concert
Symphony Orchestra & Special Guest Vocalist
Bettersworth Auditorium
Lee Hall, Mississippi State University
For our Family Concert, we continue the trend of national fervor picked up from the first, but this time we move to our own turf! One of John Williams's best-loved concert works - Summon the Heroes (composed for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta) - kicks things off. Then we jump right into two selections that showcase a handful of patriotic tunes: Michael Brown's Three American Patriotic Songs and Morton Gould's American Salute. Briefly suspending our American focus, we will next hear the orchestra accompany the talented winner of the 2018 MSU Music Department Concerto Competition, Haylee Glenn, who will sing a heart-wrenching aria from Giacomo Puccini's final opera Turandot, "Signore, ascolta!" Finally, enjoy two very popular selections by "The Dean of American Composers" Aaron Copland: the Variations on a Shaker Melody (from the ballet Appalachian Spring) and the rousing Hoe Down from Rodeo!

Summon the Heroes
by John Williams

American Patriotic Songs
by Michael Brown

American Salute
by Morton Gould

Variations on a Shaker Melody "Hoe Down" from Rodeo
by Aaron Copeland

Special Feature: "Signore, ascolta!" from Turandot by Giacomo Puccini
performed by Haylee Glenn, winner of the 2018 MSU Concerto Competition
November 11th, 2018
Salute to the Beatles
Symphony Chorus
Trinity Presbyterian Church
607 Hospital Road, Starkville, MS
In its 2018 Fall concert, the Symphony Chorus celebrates the Fab Four with choral selections written and produced by members of The Beatles. Music lovers of all ages will enjoy a repertoire showcasing the impact of this iconic rock band.
January 19th, 2019
Our America
Symphony Orchestra
Bettersworth Auditorium
Lee Hall, Mississippi State University
We begin 2019 with more exciting American music! This includes another important milestone work, a rollicking overture, and a composition by our very own artistic director, Dr. Barry E. Kopetz. This concert's first piece is special in multiple respects. Mississippi native William Grant Still's Afro-American Symphony was the first symphony composed by an African American and premiered by a major orchestra. It is also a stunning exploration of what's possible when elements from African American and European classical music traditions are combined. And speaking of crossover icons, what extended sampling of American music would be complete without a little Leonard Bernstein? Hear next the sparkling overture to his celebrated light opera Candide. Rounding out this concert is Dr. Kopetz's attractive and skillfully written Americana Folk Suite.

Afro-American Symphony
by Mississippi native, William Grant Still
Still's symphony was the first composed by an African American composer and premiered by a major orchestra.

Candide Overture
by Leonard Bernstein

Americana Folk Suite
by the SSO's own Barry Kopetz
March 2nd, 2019
Masterworks Founders Concert
Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
Bettersworth Auditorium
Lee Hall, Mississippi State University
With our Masterworks Concert we move to music from the first half of the 19th century, including another colorful overture and what is perhaps the most famous of all symphonies! Continuing a season-long trend, we will begin by enjoying a concert piece that deftly weaves in materials from another work. Hector Berlioz's skills as an orchestrator and creator of musical thrills are on full display with his Roman Carnival Overture, which draws upon some of the choicest bits from his opera Benvenuto Cellini. And you'll surely want to stick around for the evening's main musical course - Ludwig van Beethoven's titanic Ninth Symphony. Take this special opportunity to hear our live performance (with the help of the MSU State Singers) of an iconic masterpiece!

Roman Carnival Overture
by Hector Berlioz

Ninth Symphony
by Ludwig van Beethoven performed with the MSU Chorus
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Music Direction

  • BarryKopetz

    Barry Kopetz

    Music Director and Conductor, Symphony Orchestra

    Portfolio Item

    Doug Browning

    Conductor, Symphony Chorus

    Portfolio Item

    Ryan Ross

    Symphony Manager

Programs for Children

Each year the Starkville-MSU Symphony Association presents its Programs for Children. Part of the contest involves creating a class or group mural about American Patriotism or American Heroes to be submitted to the contest judges. Since the theme of the 2018 Programs for Children is Patriotic/Hero music, this contest has been created to promote excitement about the program on November 9th. Download Contest Details

Download Contest Details

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Our Sponsors

The 2018-2019 Symphony Concert Season and Programs for Children are made possible through grants and support by these and other partners



The Starkville-MSU Symphony Association is a not-for-profit voluntary organization affiliated with Mississippi State University and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

Eric Alan Hill


Haley Montgomery

Vice President

Ellen Goodman


Mary Beck


Robert Hawkins

Past President

Board Members

Lateshia Butler

Joan Butler

Anna Debicka-Dyer

Randy Dennis

Sheri Falcone

Barbara Frank

Charles Freeman

Elizabeth Hawkins

Alex Hui

Lynn Infanger

Embra Jackson

Pat Lane

Anne Lang

Kathy McGill

Julia Osman

Gary Packwood

Terry Thomas

Steve Turner


Doug Browning

Rhonda Keenum

Barry Kopetz

Ryan Ross

John Rush

Joe Ray Underwood


We would love to hear from you! Thank you for supporting the Starkville-MSU Symphony Association.


Starkville-MSU Symphony Association
P.O. Box 1271
Starkville, MS 39759


Ryan Ross, Symphony Manager
(662) 325-3070