Castillo returns to Jones College as prestigious Mississippi State University  Wind Ensemble member

ELLISVILLE – When Jones College’s Fine Arts Department invited the Mississippi State University Wind Ensemble to perform recently, band members were also proud to welcome JC alumnus, Jorge Castillo. The Ellisville native and former Maroon Typhoon Drum Major is now a proud member of the MSU Famous Maroon Band and The Wind Ensemble. Performing for Jones College students, faculty and guests was special to Castillo because he was playing at “home.”

“It is so humbling to be in the MSU Wind Ensemble,” said Castillo. “I’m blessed with great instructors who are preparing me to work in music education. It has been great making the transition to Starkville.”

The May 2019 graduate is continuing his music education studies at Mississippi State University. However, returning to JC as a member of the 75-member premiere instrumental student ensemble at Mississippi State University reminded Castillo, who also graduated from South Jones High School, where his love for music thrived.

“Walking down the hallway at Jones as we arrived in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium today was nostalgic. Lots of memories came flooding back! I miss Jones and everything I experienced here. I’m also ready for the next step as Mississippi State’s instructors are helping me hone my skills for my career.”

The Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Elva Kay Lance, the Director of Bands at Mississippi State, stopped at Jones for a performance before a concert at the annual American Bandmasters Association Convention on the Coast. Membership in the MSU Wind Ensemble is extended to the most advanced musicians by competitive audition, regardless of university major. This select group represents the musical student leadership of the band program and performs in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Members aspire to elevate individual and collective musicianship and strengthen performance skills.

Jones College Director of Bands, Dr. Ben Burge (middle left) and Associate Director of Bands Dr. Lindsey Keay (left) greet former JC Drum Major and current MSU member of the Wind Ensemble, Jorge Castillo (middle right) and the Director of Bands at Mississippi State, Elva Kay Lance (right) who also conducted the MSU Wind Ensemble’s recent performance at Jones.

JC hosts MCTM Jr. H.S. Math Contest

ELLISVILLE – Jones College’s Math department along with the Mississippi Council of Teachers of Mathematics recently sponsored the district level MCTM Math Contest for Jr. High School students.  About 40 students from ten Pine Belt schools spent the morning working out various math problems to earn a spot at the state competition in April.

Northeast Jones’ Lauren Hunter took first place amongst eighth-graders with West Jones’ Ryan Logan earning second-place honors. Seventh-grader, Brad Garner from Mize won first place and Northeast Jones’ Ellison Latham won second place amongst the seventh graders competing. These students will continue competing on the state level on April 4, at Hinds Community College.

Army’s Magnolia Brass Band recruits Jones College musicians

ELLISVILLE – The Magnolia Brass Band from the 41st Army Band based in Jackson, is touring the state on a mission to recruit more musicians, especially community college students. Two of the six members in the band, Spc. Brandon Broome of Sumrall and Sgt. Patrick Hand, currently a Gulfport resident, has ties to Jones College and are already enjoying the benefits of being a military band musician. Even though the Magnolia Brass Band, which is part of the Army National Guard, performs throughout the state, the nation and abroad, everyone adheres to the military’s physical and training requirements. The Brass Band only rehearses one weekend a month and spends two weeks a year in active training, like “regular” National guardsmen.

“Last summer we spent two weeks in Hawaii filling in for the active members of the band there,” shared Sgt. Joe Raymond, who is also the Wayne County School District’s Director of Bands. “We’re soldiers first and musicians full-time, but we’re not likely to be deployed.”

Among the benefits most appealing to Sgt. Raymond is the college education and student loan payoff program. This allowed him to work on his master’s degree without incurring any debt. Also interested in the college education program is Spc. Broome, who is currently a sophomore at Jones College and plays trombone for the Maroon Typhoon at JC. He and trumpeter, Sgt. Hand, who graduated from JC in 2011, proudly enjoys serving their country by performing.

“Five years ago, I was teaching music at the high school level and heard this band (the National Guard’s Magnolia Brass Band) play at a band directors’ clinic. I didn’t know the Army National Guard had bands and this could be an option for me,” said Sgt. Hand. “My wife is happy because as a member of the band I am least likely to be deployed and I like the fact I get to serve in the military and perform.”

Sgt. Patrick Hand, Dr. Patrick Richards, Spc. Brandon Broome

After graduating from Jones College, Sgt. Hand continued his music education degree at USM where he studied under Dr. Patrick Richards, who is currently an assistant director of bands at Jones College. Sgt. Hand did his student teaching at South Jones High School in Ellisville, before becoming a band director at Oak Grove in 2013 and at West Harrison schools in 2014. Now, in addition to his military career, Sgt. Hand said he also has the privilege in his civilian career to build warships at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, as an electrician. However, returning to the Jones campus to perform with the Brass Band was a nostalgic experience; reminding him of where his musical career thrived.

“So many things have changed over nine years, and yet many things are the same,” said Sgt. Hand. “I feel like I’m home every time I return to Jones.”

Noah Schumann and Sgt. Joe Raymond

The Army National Guard has several bands aspiring musicians can audition to join, including a full concert band, jazz band, rock band and marching band. Currently, the Wayne County School District’s Assistant Director of Bands, Spc. Sarah Nichols plays trumpet for the Magnolia Brass Band. However, she was a member of a couple of rock bands in the Hattiesburg area before learning she could return to performing classical and traditional music with the Army’s health benefits. After discovering the benefits of being a musician in the Army National Guard, Jones College freshman from Wayne County, Noah Schuman, said he is considering joining the Army’s Brass Band, like his High School band director, Sgt. Raymond.

Jones College’s music department hosts Spring Recital Series

ELLISVILLE –A musical feast featuring musicians from the region and music from around the world and centuries ago will be heard on Fridays in March and April at Jones College. The annual Spring Recital Series features a variety of musicians and vocalists entertaining the audience around the lunch hour.  This musical event begins on Friday, March 27, at 12 p.m. until 12:55 p.m. in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium and will continue on each Friday through April 24, in the Foote Chapel at JC, at 1 p.m.  All concerts are free and open to the public.  For more information call the JC Fine Arts Department at 601-477-4203 or online at

On Friday, March 27, at 12 p.m. in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium, the Series opens with, “The Impromptu Piano Trio,” featuring Stephen Redfield on violin; Alexander Russakovsky on cello and Theresa Sanchez on piano, with musical selections from Schubert’s Trio in B-flat and Joaquin Turina’s Piano Trio No. 2.

The Friday, April 3, performance of the “Dueling Divas,” will begin at 1 p.m. in the Foote Chapel. Mezzo-soprano, Jeanette Fontaine and soprano, Roza Tulyaganova will perform a delightful program of operatic and Broadway arias and duets, accompanied on piano by Dr. Victoria Johnson.

Heavenly harpists, Catherine Anderson of New Orleans and Rebecca Todaro of Baton Rouge of, “Quintessential Harp,” will be performing original and transcribed repertoire on Friday, April 17, at 1 p.m., in the Foote Chapel on the campus of JC in Ellisville. The duo’s program showcases both harpists in a conversation through repertoire from the ages.

The final recital on Friday, April 24, at 1 p.m., in the Foote Chapel, features the unusual chamber ensemble, “Keys, Bow and a Slide – Music for Violin, Trombone and Piano.”  With Anne-Gaëlle Ravetto on violin, Douglas Mark on trombone, and Jung-Won Shin accompanying the duo on piano, this trio will play original compositions for their unique timbres including works by Anthony O’Toole, Robert Patterson and Rodrigo Camargo. The latter two pieces were expressly written for this ensemble.