NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - Four students from the Stephen F. Austin State University will be the featured soloists during the Orchestra of the Pines' "Taking Center Stage" concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

Each fall, SFA music students enter the School of Music's annual Concerto/Aria Competition, and the winners have the unique opportunity of performing with a full orchestra, explained Gene H. Moon, director of orchestral activities at SFA and the Orchestra of the Pines' music director.

Student soloists are trumpeter Jarrod Beard, Groesbeck graduate student, performing the first movement of Joseph Haydn's "Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major," and soprano Monica Hamilton, Gallatin graduate student, singing "Où va la jeune Indoue" (Indian Bell Song) from "Lakmè" by Léo Delibes.

Soprano Tiffanny Hamilton, Longview graduate student will sing "Depuis le Jour" from "Louise" by Gustave Charpentier, and saxophonist Robert Palermo, Brownsville senior, will perform the second and third movements of Pierre Dubois' "Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra."

Also included on the program is the orchestra's presentation of Ottorino Respighi's "Fountains of Rome." The composer was enamored by the many fountains in the city and wrote music depicting four of them that he visited at different times of the day, Moon explained. "The writing is extremely beautiful and has reflections of Debussy and Ravel."

Students of Peter Andrew, SFA professor of art, have painted canvasses of the four fountains that will be displayed against the back wall of the stage during the performance.

All four student soloists have already proven themselves as talented musicians. Beard has previously performed at the Opera, Theatre and Music Festival in Lucca, Italy, for the past two summers and with the Shreveport Orchestra. Monica Hamilton has sung under the baton of world-renowned conductors Helmuth Rilling and Robert Levin, and she will be singing the title role in SFA's spring production of Carlisle Floyd's opera "Susannah."

Tiffanny Hamilton is a two-year finalist in the graduate women's division in the regional competition of the National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Award and has sung major roles in SFA's operas. Palermo was selected for the National Intercollegiate Band and has participated in the Music Teachers National Association Young Artist Competition.

The concert, which is a joint presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music, is sponsored in part by Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital and the Wedgeworth-Wright Endowment for the Arts.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and $5 for students. For tickets or more information, please visit or call (936) 468-6407 or (888) 240-ARTS.