Arts & Features Staff Writer
A variety of musical sounds filled Lipinksy Hall at UNC Asheville, ranging from classical singing and electronic soundscapes to bluegrass and contemporary pieces. Melodies and original compositions echoed throughout the building and down the staircases, creating a dulcet environment for anyone listening.
The department of music at UNCA officially launched the fall semester concert series on campus with the annual Faculty Music Showcase. The showcase was open to the general public and free of charge for attendees.
“At the beginning of every semester, the students aren’t quite ready to perform yet but we want to have something to get people excited about the department and what we have coming up,” said Christine Boone, classical vocalist and assistant professor of music at UNCA.
Boone coordinated and hosted the event and has coordinated each faculty showcase for the past three years. She said that she started preparing for this year’s showcase two weeks before the fall semester started.
“I really thought that I would have to do more pleading to get people to perform because it is taking time out of their schedules,” Boone said. “But I think everyone has a really strong commitment to UNCA and to our students and so everyone is really eager to do it.”
Boone, as well as other faculty and staff, are active performers outside of campus. For her, having a faculty showcase is important for the students of the music department to see what their instructors can do.
“Since the faculty are all teaching music, we’re also all performing musicians and so it’s a good opportunity for us to show the students what they can do and what we can teach them,” Boone said.
“Music is a field that is very tied to apprenticeship models where you take one on one voice lesson or a one on one trumpet lesson, or what have you,” said Melodie Galloway, associate professor and chair of the music department. “The more modeling we can do for our students, the more it benefits them.”
Boone, along with Melodie Galloway and Pamela Miller, performed a piece called, ‘Lift Thine Eyes’ from an oratorio written by Felix Mendelssohn as the opening act of the evening. Boone said she chose this piece because she felt there was a significant lyrical connection with UNCA’s motto, “levo oculos meos in montes,” which literally translates to “I lift my eyes to the mountains.”
Galloway said the idea to have a faculty showcase concert started a few years ago when the music department decided to offer the first faculty recital.
“Most university music departments have faculty recitals off and on. It’s partly about the faculty member keeping themselves sharp with their instrument because if we’re not performing, you’re not really pushed to stay on top of your game,” Galloway said.
She said the faculty and staff wanted to tailor the showcase to fit the liberal arts curriculum of UNCA. Instead of having different concerts for different genres, they decided to incorporate all different kinds of music in an effort to make it eclectic.
“Every time, it’s a different mix and it’s always really different. Like Dr. Boone said at the beginning, ‘if you hear something you don’t like quite that much, just wait five minutes and you’ll hear something completely different’ and I love that about it,” Galloway said.
The selection of pieces for the faculty showcases is usually a team effort and typically happens before the semester even begins.
“Dr. Boone was in charge of it last semester and she was willing to continue. She kind of curates it, and I mean that in terms of people don’t have to send in a recording,” Galloway said. We’re not that formal about it. There’s a lot of trust at this level if you’re going to put yourself up there as a faculty member.”
Participation in the showcase is not a requirement for the faculty and staff but most of the faculty members will volunteer to be a part of it.
“She’ll put out a call, and first of all, it’s whoever would like to do the showcase,” Galloway said.
The showcase also presents an opportunity for the adjunct faculty to demonstrate their talent. “We really, and I as chair, are trying to build a culture in our department where the adjunct faculty feel just as valued as the full time faculty,” Galloway said. “And that’s one tangible and physical way that we can do that.”
Students, alumni of the music department and others from the campus community could be seen throughout the audience, some assisting with the event’s setup while others were simply there to enjoy their instructors’ performances. Gary Freedman, singer and senior music technology student, was the live events manager of the showcase.
“I liked the general energy of having the faculty playing for all the students. These are all talented musicians who are all working outside of the UNCA community. They are all working toward their goals like all of us should be working toward our goals as well,” Freedman said.
Melodie Galloway says she hopes that interest in the showcase will grow. Reaching out to the community outside of campus is important to her.
“I think it’s starting to catch on in the community to draw community members as well as the campus community, but we’re working on marketing to that wider audience, too because it’s free and it’s really high quality,” she said.