Over the summer, news broke that Mississippi University for Women had suffered a tragic loss. Music professor, Dr. Joe L. Alexander, had suddenly passed away.

Dr. Joe L. Alexander

“There is so much that can be said about Dr. Alexander. He was a wonderful colleague, a consummate musician and a friend.  Losing him unexpectedly has had a profound effect on our music program and the larger musical community, and it will take time for us to heal. I will personally remember his positivity, his passion for music and for teaching music and his supreme commitment to his students,” said Dr. Julia Mortyakova, chair of The W’s music department.

To honor the legacy of Alexander, the department has planned a concert. This is not just any concert, though.

“The concert will involve performances of Dr. Alexander’s music. They will be performed by W music faculty, W music students, W music alumni and also several of Dr. Alexander’s former colleagues. It will be a combination of music written for solo instruments, chamber music works, as well as several choral works that will be performed by The W Chamber Singers,” said Dr. Valentin Bogdan, a professor in the department and the organizer of the concert.

The Joe L. Alexander Tribute Concert is set for Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Poindexter Hall. It is free and open to the public.

The concept for a concert came naturally because it highlights Alexander’s achievements in the area to which he devoted his life.

“The department wished to have a concert to honor Dr. Alexander’s legacy at The W, featuring his music.  Additionally, his family inquired about the possibility of honoring his life with an event at The W and we thought a tribute concert was the best way to achieve both goals.  As Dr. Alexander has had a vast musical career, having taught at numerous institutions and been very involved in professional music organizations, we wanted to feature his colleagues and former students from all around the country,” Mortyakova said.

Alexander is remembered as a passionate and dedicated professor who, above all else, valued his time in the classroom. Music was his passion, but he also loved using music to make a difference in students’ lives. That showed during his time at The W.

Mortyakova said, “After his interview, someone remarked that this is a professor ‘who will change lives.’  Dr. Alexander has been doing just that since he arrived in the fall of 2016. Even though he was renowned nationally as a composer and often performed on the tuba, he considered himself a professor foremost and his passion was in the classroom. He was an incredible teacher who elevated his students and our department to greater academic and musical heights. … Dr. Alexander had high standards for his students but also provided them with ample tools to achieve them. He tutored countless students outside of class, sometimes multiple times a week, on a regular basis. He was not afraid to be honest with students, but he always showed empathy. He was strict, but compassionate, and he was loved by everyone because of that.”

His love of music extended beyond the classroom and he held positions on music organization boards including NACUSA (National Association of Composers USA), where he served as treasurer of the national office and president of the MID-South Chapter. 

“He was a giant, not only in our department but also for the musical world in general. … We hope this concert will aid in acknowledging everyone’s grief and will give us an opportunity to express our gratitude for having known Dr. Alexander and the deep impact he has had on all of our lives.” Mortyakova said.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.