Shellie KempOctober 26, 2021 (Jackson, Miss.) - Belhaven University music alumna Shellie (Brown) Kemp '12 won a national audition to become Concertmistress for the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra's (MSO) 2021-2022 season.

“Shellie was one of the youngest violin section players with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and began her career with the MSO while still attending college at Belhaven,” said Mr. Song Xie, professor of violin and Belhaven's orchestra director. “To win the national audition against stunning players from around the country is a significant leap in her career.”

As concertmistress, Kemp will fulfill typical duties such as communicating with the conductor, leading the orchestra, working with principalplayers, determining bowings, and will lead the violin section. She will have major solos in symphonic works, playing separateparts from the rest of the section.

Kemp observed, “It is an incredible opportunity and honor. Playing concertmaster with the MSO is something very special to me as I have grown up listening to them my whole life. Concertmaster positions are few and far between, so it is really difficult to gain experience in that leadership position. I am looking forward to learning from this position and having something to practice for, since COVID-19 has significantly slowed our work as musicians.”

Her role also includesbeing first violin of the Mississippi Symphony String Quartet which is made up of its principalstring players. They play educational concerts for the Jackson Public School district as well as other concerts. At the end of the season, they play a chamber concert at Woodworth Chapel which features a major string quartet work.

In her undergraduate years, Kemp would play as a substitute. Then in 2012, she began a section position for two years. After Belhaven, she won auditions to top universities and conservatories in the nation to continue her graduate studies. She moved back to Jackson after graduate school and has been playing with the MSO for a total of six years. She has won competitions at all levels and earned many ensemble leadership positions through auditions.

Kemp's time at Belhaven was an important step in her musical career and credits Xie for her musical growth while at the University. “My teacher, Mr. Song Xie, is a musicalgenius and was the best guide,cheerleader, and support. He cares so much for his students' futures,well-being, and musicianship. His studio was an open door for me to play something or ask questions. It was the combination of a smaller tight-knit community, great faculty support, and focus on God and spiritual well-being that allowed me to have a unique, healthy, and individually customized experience while at Belhaven.