Dr. Jay Dean - Artistic Director

JAY DEAN has directed and conducted the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra since 1988, and his work as a conductor and educator spans orchestras in the United States, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia. His recruiting efforts have turned the USM Symphony Orchestra into a multinational conglomerate that includes students from over fifteen countries. Unique partnerships that have been developed under his leadership have allowed the orchestra to achieve a spirit and reputation of superior musicianship that has brought international acclaim to the university and to the state. As a musical ambassador for Mississippi, Dean regularly seeks opportunities to collaborate with world-class artists. His orchestra has performed with world-renowned instrumental icons such as Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sir James Galway, Joshua Bell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Manuel Barrueco, John Browning, Christopher Parkening, Edgar Meyer, Ransom Wilson, Alexandre Brussilovsky, and Amit Paled. At home conducting a broad range of musical genres, his skills as an artistic producer and manager have enabled him to collaborate on projects of a much broader context. He has directed performances across the state with major popular artists such as Doc Severinsen, The Pointer Sisters, Patti La Belle, Dionne Warwick, Patti Austin, Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Linda Eder, and stars from the American Idol television series. 


Tippy garner - Executive director

Tippy Garner, who has served as executive director of Mississippi Opera since 2012, says she has always had a great love for classical music. She discovered the opera scene in Mississippi after meeting her husband's late sister-in-law, Linnie Garner, who was an opera singer. As executive director, Garner is in charge of contacting Mississippi Opera's donors and sponsors, writing grants, and managing the opera's box office and fundraising. Garner is a lifelong Jackson resident. She graduated from Callaway High School and went on to Hinds Community College in Raymond, where she received her associate's degree in general studies in 1972. She also enrolled at Belhaven University. In addition to her work with Mississippi Opera, Garner is also a member of the Mississippi Opera Guild, and organizes fundraisers and mail outs for the organization. "I think opera is a wonderful musical genre, one I love both hearing and supporting in any way possible…. I only wish more people would take advantage of everything we are so lucky to have here in Jackson.”

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Andrew Head - Chorus Master

Andrew Head (chorusmaster) has appeared in several roles and scenes including Governor Danforth (The Crucible), Duka (Rigoletto), Sam (Susannah), Énee (Les Troyens), Abu Hassan (Abu Hassan), Bushy (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Riccardo (Un ballo in maschera), Don José (Carmen), Werther (Werther) and others. On the operatic and recital stage, Mr. Head has performed in New York, Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Since 2016 he has served as the Director of Choral Activities at the Raymond Campus of Hinds Community College, where he also maintains a voice studio. During his tenure at Hinds, the choral program has experienced rapid growth and performed in venues across the State of Mississippi.