MSU music department to present ‘Sara and Billy and Richard and Oscar: America’s Got Talent!’

Faculty and students in Mississippi State’s Department of Music will be joined Wednesday [Feb. 12] by a guest instrumentalist during the department’s 12th Music and Poetry Program. (Submitted photo)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s Department of Music is presenting its 12th Music and Poetry Program on Tuesday [Feb. 12] at 7:30 p.m. in Old Main Academic Center’s Turner A. Wingo Auditorium.

Free to all, this year’s “All-American Program” features songs set to the poetry of early 20th century poet Sara Teasdale and late 20th and 21st century poet Billy Collins, along with songs from mid-20th century musicals by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

“From serious love songs to hilarious comic songs and everything in between, this program has something for everyone,” said program co-director Nancy D. Hargrove. “We look forward to celebrating the talents of American poets, composers and performers by providing an evening of wonderful music, comedy, and even a surprise or two.”

Hargrove, a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor Emerita of English, co-founded the collaborative music and poetry program in 2008 with instructor Karen Murphy, the music department’s coordinator of collaborative piano.

For the program, Murphy will serve as pianist and Hargrove will provide commentary on the poets, composers, poems and songs using Powerpoint illustrations. Along with MSU’s women’s chorus Schola Cantorum and guest cellist Anthony Lu, performers include MSU music faculty and students.

Faculty performers include clinical assistant professor Christy Lee, piano; instructor Ryan Landis, tenor; associate professor Gary Packwood, director of choral activities; instructor Jessica Haislip, oboe; and instructor Sheri Falcone, clarinet.

Student performers include soprano Calloway N. Ellis, music education master’s student, Prairie; tenor William E. Tiffin, senior music major, West Point; soprano Kaley D. Smith, sophomore music education major, Meridian; mezzo soprano Darbie E. Woods, senior music education major, Vicksburg; soprano Payton Tanner, senior music major, Alabaster, Alabama; soprano Alyssa G. “Gracie” Tew, senior music major, Brandon; baritone John H. Williams, senior music education major, Lake Charles, Louisiana; soprano Nyla J. Thomas, freshman music major, Southaven; soprano Reagan E. Ray, senior music education major, Belden; baritone Daniel K. Joyner, senior music education major, Alamo, Tennessee; tenor Christopher M. Durham, junior music education major, Lynn Haven, Florida; soprano Taylor M. Jenkins, senior music education major, Vero Beach, Florida; soprano Leah A. Boyd, senior music education major, Madison, Alabama; soprano Kailyn E. Naquin, sophomore music education major, Lacombe, Louisiana; Blake Mauldin, junior music education major, Pinson, Alabama, serving as “The Billy Collins Suite” narrator; and soprano Megan Kundel, an MSU student from Starkville.

Established in 1903, MSU’s College of Education is home to six academic departments, one research unit and numerous service units. For more on the college and its nationally accredited Department of Music, visit or

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