Meridian Star


September 8, 2013

Principal players ...

Those who lead instrument groups of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra


MERIDIAN — Jenny Grégoire, Concertmaster

    Violinist Jenny Grégoire serves as concertmaster, having received this appointment in September 2005. The concertmaster is the violinist who occupies the first chair of the first violin section of an orchestra. Responsibilities include presiding over the tuning of the orchestra onstage prior to a performance, making entrance after the musicians are seated, dictating the bowings for strings, playing violin solo passages in a composition, and leading the entire orchestra with emotion, accuracy, and excellence–a positive influence on colleagues.

    A skilled artisan, Grégoire also serves as the concertmaster of the Gulf Coast Symphony. Born in Quebec, Canada, she earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in violin performance at the Quebec Music Conservatoire. Advanced study at Northwestern University in Chicago led to her Master’s degree in Violin Performance and Pedagogy.

    After membership in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and following a fellowship with the New World Symphony, Grégoire was appointed in 2001 to the position of concertmaster of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, and continues in that capacity today. Residing in Tuscaloosa, Ala., she is an adjunct violin instructor at the University of Alabama, teaches privately, and plays regularly with the Alabama Symphony and the Pensacola Symphony. During the summer, Grégoire performs and teaches at the Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro, N.C.

    She was MSO's violin soloist in April 2012, performing Pablo de Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen” and Borodin’s “Nocturne” from the Second String Quartet.

    She is married to Demondrae Thurman, associate professor of Euphonium at the University of Alabama. They have two children.

Brian Cheesman, Principal Percussion

    Dr. Brian Cheesman is serving in his second year as associate band director/percussion instructor at Itawamba Community College. His duties at ICC include assisting with the marching and concert bands, in addition to teaching the drum line, percussion ensemble, steel band, applied percussion lessons, and music appreciation. He has served as adjudicator for various Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) state marching festivals and the Mississippi Indoor Association and remains active as an arranger, clinician, performer, educator, and adjudicator in the Southeast.

    Cheesman holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of Mississippi, a master of music degree from Wichita State University, and a doctor of musical arts in percussion performance/pedagogy from the University of Southern Mississippi. He also studied extensively during the summer of 2008 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, with well-known Latin percussionist, Freddie Santiago Campos. These studies opened up many opportunities to conduct many clinics throughout the Southeast and Central plains on Latin Percussion FUNdamentals.

    Cheesman maintains an active performing career in which he serves as principal percussionist with the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, section percussionist with the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra and subs regularly with other orchestras in the Gulf States and central Kansas areas. His drumset experience extends from the Central Kansas area to Mississippi, where he has been the regular, or substitute drummer for The Cabaret Old Town dinner theatre in Wichita Kansas, Laurel Little Theatre, Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera, Jimmy Dorsey Big Band, and John Wooton and KAISO.

    Cheesman is a member of PAS, MBA, and the Northeast Mississippi Bandmasters Association. Outside of his duties with ICC, he holds a NTRP rating of 4.0 with the United States Tennis Association and actively participates in league and tournament tennis.

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