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Cultural and Special Events: The magic of the arts ... close to home

By Arnold Wengrow

Esperanza Spalding

Jazz prodigy Esperanza Spalding

Bunny Halton -Subkis, UNC Asheville’s Cultural and Special Events director, has an eye for rising stars.

“We try to bring artists and speakers who are on the edge of the trends, who are just about to hit it big,” she said about the performing artists and speakers she brings to Asheville each year.

Student Stars

While the Cultural and Special Events series brings performers with national and international flair to campus, the university has some of its own rising stars.

Music Department

Concerts are held in Lipinsky Auditorium. General admission is $5. For more information, call 828.251.6432 or visit unca.edu/music/calendar.htm.

Thursday, Nov. 19
7:30 p.m.
Percussion Ensemble

Sunday, Nov. 22
4 p.m.
Chamber Symphony

Sunday, Dec. 6 4 p.m. Annual Holiday Concert

Drama Department

Performances are held in Carol Belk Theatre. General admission tickets are $10. For tickets, show times and more information, call 828.232.2291.

November 18–22
“And a Child Shall Lead” by Michael Slade

February 24–28
“The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek” by Naomi Wallace

April 21–25
“The Trojan Women” by Euripides

Recently, she was ahead of even the White House when she booked jazz musician Esperanza Spalding to perform. The young bassist, vocalist and bandleader went mainstream last February when she played for President Barack Obama and special guests as part of a small group of musicians honoring Stevie Wonder. She’ll take the Lipinsky Auditorium stage on March 2, 2010, after tour stops at Carnegie Hall, the Monterey Jazz Festival and Ronnie Scott’s in London.

Besides rising stars, Halton-Subkis says she looks for artists and speakers who cross boundaries. “We’re able to take a chance and do some things that extend the arts scene in Asheville,” she said.

That was certainly the case with two artists earlier in the season—The Nagata Shachu Japanese taiko drumming ensemble and Daniel Bernard Roumain, a classically-trained violinist who combines classical music with funk, rock, hip-hop, turntables and beat-boxing.

“A lot of universities offer entertainment and escape,” said Ed Katz, associate provost and dean of university programs. “What we’re trying to provide here are opportunities for students to stretch themselves intellectually, culturally and aesthetically.

“Most of the artists conduct workshops and visit classes,” Katz said. “Our students can get up close and understand where their creative process comes from, how they think about what they do.”

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