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Band Indigo Girls standing with guitars
Band Indigo Girls standing with guitars
The Indigo Girls are scheduled for the 2022-2023 University Concert & Lecture Series.

“Imagine the power of not only seeing a tremendous musician like Joshua Bell play the violin, but also being able to ask him questions about his career and have him comment on your own performance. This is what the University Concert and Lecture Series is all about. It is game changing for our students,” says Dominick Amendum, the Series’ Artistic Director and Coordinator of UNCG’s musical theatre program.

Every artist who performs in the University Concert and Lecture Series also delivers a masterclass for University students. They might also host a jam session or lead a Q&A session during which students can ask them anything from their creative process to how they found their agent. The events are also offered to Guilford County Schools students, K-12, thanks to a grant from The Cemala Foundation.

Brigette Pfister, Assistant Dean for Budget and Operations for the College of Visual and Performing Arts, is the Series’ Operations Manager. Pfister negotiates the contracts and says artists respond favorably to the requests for student engagement:

“The University Concert and Lecture Series (UCLS) is about showing our students how to become the artists that they want to become. We want to add value to their education. Once we explain that to the artists, they respond generously. They’re genuinely nice and willing to take time to interact with our students.”

The longest running series of its kind

UCLS celebrates its 110th season this year, making it the longest running series of its kind in North Carolina. The process behind building each season is comprehensive, taking six-to-eight months from beginning to end.

The program is curated by a committee made up of faculty members from each of the four schools within CVPA (art, dance, music, and theatre) and student representatives. Together they work on a slate of artists based on the series’ two-fold artistic vision:

“First, we want to engage with our community. The arts are often a ‘gateway’ to the University, and for many in the Greensboro area, these events are the first events that bring them to campus,” says Amendum. “Therefore, we want to bring in artists that excite the public, open their hearts and minds, and bring our neighbors to our performance spaces. Second, we strive to provide our students with Aspirational Artists. Bringing a caliber of artist such as Emmylou Harris, Geena Davis, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Audra McDonald, or Camille A. Brown and Dancers to campus allows our students to be able to see the tremendous performances that they aspire to create one day, but also to engage with these artists in discussions and masterclasses….These are the experiences young artists need.“

The committee begins by generating a list of 20-to-24 artists. It is then Pfister’s job to narrow the list down to artists who are available to fit within a single season schedule. The Series’ Production Manager, James Goins, and a staff committee work to secure dates and to handle logistics, such as hotel rooms, transportation, and catering.

The development of the series

What started small in 1913 has developed into the University Concert and Lecture Series that it is today. An ongoing goal is to increase the University’s profile by attracting high caliber artists. In addition to the artistic masterclasses, the committee is hoping to add on learning opportunities for design tech and arts administration students by interacting with crew members, road managers, and designers.

The committee tries to include students in as many aspects of the event as possible. In some cases, students work on tech crews or in the box office. Many artists need a personal assistant or a dresser, so students are often chosen for those opportunities:

“When Audra McDonnell was here, we had a student who idolized her. We asked if she was available to be her dresser. She was floored,” Pfister recalls. “It’s more than just entertainment; there’s a much deeper and more meaningful piece to it. Getting to watch the students have those interactions with major, relevant, successful artists in the fields that they will be entering is really wonderful.”

See what’s next

The University Concert and Lecture Series’ Presenting Sponsors are Joseph M. Bryan Jr. and The Cemala Foundation; its Underwriting Sponsor is Well•Spring; the Hospitality Sponsor is Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels; the Media Sponsor is Our State Magazine; and Pam and David Sprinkle annually sponsor a contemporary dance company.

This season’s lineup includes actor Winston Duke, violinist Joshua Bell, artist Shaun Leonardo, the Urban Bush Women dance company, the folk rock duo The Indigo Girls with the Greensboro Symphony, and the Seraph Brass quintet. For more details, visit the UCLS website.

Story by AMBCopy, University Communications
Photography by Martin Kane, Mike Micciche

Malpaso Dance Company performing on stage at UNCG

Don’t Miss Out.

Don’t miss out on UNC Greensboro’s 110th Concert and Lecture Series: Live Your Life with Live Arts.

 
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