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Who's who in the Meridian Symphony Orchestra

By Staff
Editor's note: Meridian Symphony Orchestra's 40th Anniversary Commemorative Series continues to take readers "behind the scenes" in the following intimate profiles of three principal players.
By Sarah Mutziger/Special to The Star
March 11, 2001
Meridian Symphony Orchestra is a highly trained, well-tuned professional organization with a world-class conductor leading world-class musicians.
Presenting a symphony concert costs the MSO Board between $15,000 to $20,000. Our musicians are not amateurs or volunteers. For 40 years, the Meridian community has asked for the best and deserves to hear more about the principal players who play their best for us.
There are, on average, about 14 principal players among the 65 to 70 performers who play for any given concert. That figure varies, depending on the composition requirements of the music. "Principal player" implies a "most excellent" standard of performance and this individual also has leadership responsibilities in their musical section of the orchestra. All of them deserve a spotlight in "Who's Who." Hopefully, that will be fulfilled in due time.
Patricia Malone, Sharon Lebsack and Wilbur Moreland are three principal players with considerable longevity in the local symphony. They all teach at the University of Southern Mississippi and were available on the same day for interviews.
During our discussions, each described their lives as musicians, including what playing and teaching has meant to them, how they got started and what it has been like to perform with Meridian Symphony Orchestra.
Patricia Malone
Principal oboist of the MSO for 15 years, Malone has taught oboe, music theory and music appreciation for 20 years at USM.
Her husband, Mark, is choir director at Pearl River Community College. The couple have two children: Megan, 14, who "plays the piano beautifully," according to her mother, and Andrew, 10, who "plays the violin well, though he doesn't always want to," she added.
In addition to the Meridian symphony, Malone also perform regularly with symphonies in Mobile and Hattiesburg, and occasionally fills in for the Jackson symphony. She also played full-time for the Gulf Coast symphony.
Our interview follows:
Mutziger: "How did you pick the oboe?"
Malone: "When I was in elementary school, I played a little piano and violin because my dad was a musician. But, I was also a baton twirler and that's what I really loved.
Mutziger: "Was there any particular music you fell in love with?"
Malone: "Not really. I had feelings about music you can't put into words. After playing, there was such a feeling of accomplishment; there is no greater high. I think all children need to experience that.
Mutziger: "What would you like to say about music education?"
Malone: "It is so important. I think it is wonderful the fourth graders in Meridian get to hear us, and I wish we had an even stronger program for all the children. They are proving how important music is for a child's development; I wish our state believed that.
Mutziger: "Do you get images when you play?"
Malone: "Yes. Our images are our involvement. Let the images come. This is what I teach."
Mutziger: "What does it mean to be a principal oboist?"
Malone: "The principal oboist tunes the orchestra. Most people don't know this. The concert master walks out, bows, turns around and I give the tuning note.

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