RIP Andrea Lawson, Longtime State Arts Council Employee – Updated Nov. 17 & 22

The following message reached us … November 15:

Dear Colleagues:

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Andrea Lawson passed away suddenly on Sunday.

Andrea joined the North Carolina Arts Council as Performing Arts Director in 2002. She was an uplifting presence who believed strongly in the power of art to bridge divides, heal suffering and inspire joy.

Andrea relished the opportunity to collaborate with arts organizations and artists across the state to bring the arts to our citizens and to communities large and small. In the process, she made many friends for our agency and for the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

In recent years Andrea took on added responsibilities for the African American Heritage Development and Community Engagement programs. Among other accomplishments, Andrea was one of the originators of African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina, which has elevated the visibility of many of our state’s great rhythm and blues, jazz and funk musicians.

I know that you will join with me and the staff here at the Arts Council as we send prayers and condolences to Andrea’s family and friends.


Wayne Martin, Executive Director
North Carolina Arts Council


Updated Nov. 17: Andrea’s initial memorial will be in Ohio in the coming days. Efforts are underway to schedule a memorial here next month. Details to follow.


The following biographical information is adapted from the AAAE website:

Andrea Lawson, the NCAC’s Music, Dance, Community Engagement Director, also worked with African American Heritage Development & Cultural Tourism for the North Carolina Arts Council, a State agency of the Department of Cultural Resources. She was with the Arts Council for 13 years. For ten and a half years she was the Performing Arts Director which included Theatre, Music and Dance. Andrea’s constituents were music, dance and presenting organizations, local arts council, and individual artists of North Carolina. She conducted three grant panels a year, consulted with arts organizations, and participated in different council initiatives throughout the state. In the fall of 2013, she taught the undergraduate Theatre Management course at NC Central University in Durham, NC.

Ms. Lawson was dedicated to arts administration mentorship and spoke with students at university arts management/administration programs and summer internship programs such as UNC-Greensboro, Elon University, NC A&T University, Virginia Tech, and Eastern Carolina University (ECU), and the American Dance Festival (ADF).

Before her work at the NC Arts Council, Andrea was the Managing Director and Development Director of the Freed Center for the Performing Arts at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio. There she managed a 550-seat performing arts venue, technical and scenic staff, box office staff, student volunteers, and contracted with ten headliners each season. Some of her most rewarding experiences at Ohio Northern were developing and teaching two undergraduate courses: Intro to Arts Administration and Grant Research &Writing. Prior to Ohio Northern, she was the Public Relations Manager for the African American Dance Ensemble, Chuck Davis, Founder and Artistic Director from May 1996-May 1999.

Andrea held a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts, Arts Administration from Virginia Tech, where the MFA program director and her master teacher was George Thorn; and a Bachelors in Arts in Music from Cleveland State University, where she studied viola privately with Cleveland Orchestra member Lucian Joel.


Here’s the obit:

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Winds of Change Waft over Brevard

American guitarist Adam Holzman has been chosen to begin a new classical guitar program at Brevard Music Center in Summer 2017. The program is tailored for high school and college age students from 14-29. Admission will be by audition, and the course of study will include private lessons, chamber music, and ensembles in addition to masterclasses on solo performance, technique, teaching, and stagecraft.

The storied summer orchestra festival flirted with adding classical guitar to the roster of instrumental coaching over 15 years ago. This latest initiative comes just over 30 years after the June 2, 1987, death of Andrés Segovia, who spent a lifetime tirelessly advancing the classical guitar to academe and the world’s leading composers.

Holzman, who was twice chosen to perform in the historic master classes of Segovia, said, “As a young guitarist and musician, I was fortunate to attend some of the great music festivals. Those experiences have enriched my entire career. Exposure to world’s finest artists helped shaped my musical thought and created a vision of who I wanted to be as I matured…. Getting to know and study with other instrumentalists and singers was an invaluable part of my own training. My intention is to foster the new generation of young guitarists within a similar opportunity as I had and hopefully continue to do so at Brevard for a long time to come.”

According to the BMC website, “Advanced students will have the opportunity for chamber music (study and performance), drawing on the wealth of talent from the other festival participants. Concert opportunities, both on and off campus, will be offered to those ready for performance, and the course will culminate in a class recital.” Holzman will have an assistant, “to teach a morning technique workshop and aid in scheduling and guitar ensemble (coaching) with some of the younger students.”

Holzman’s artistic credentials make him a good fit at the Brevard Music Center. His background is substantial. Winner of five major international competitions; solo and chamber performances at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Kaufman Hall, the 92nd St. Y, Merkin Hall, and Carnegie Recital Hall in New York; and engagements at music festivals and series worldwide including Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Central and Latin America.

There are several recordings on the Naxos label, and Mr. Holzman‘s debut effort for HRH Records as well as the recordings for Naxos are widely referenced for precision and artistic expression.

As a teacher, he founded the Guitar Program at the University of Texas in 1989. He also founded the Austin Guitar Society, which has grown into one of the premier guitar societies in the world. His students have won a vast array of international and national prizes and perform and teach around the world. He has been named Parker C. Fielder Regents Fellow in Music at the University of Texas at Austin where he commands a thriving guitar studio consisting of many award-winning emerging artists.

He held the title of “Maestro Extraordinario” from the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico, where he served as artist-in-residence. He was awarded the Ernst von Dohnanyi Prize for Outstanding Achievement from Florida State University,

The study period is June 22 – July 15, 2017. An outline for the program can be found here:


With thanks to former editor Roger A. Cope and Maestro Holzman for their contributions to this blog post.

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Paying Commercial Papers to Cover the Arts? What’s Wrong with this Picture?

What’s happening in Boston – and in Greensboro, too – is a problem. SFCV, CVNC, and CVNA have far better and more ethical solutions. Support your local 501c3 arts journal. Don’t pay commercial papers to do what they ought to be doing routinely, as part of their nominal commitment to “public service” that used to be at the core of their mandate to operate news outlets. And for Pete’s sake don’t pay them with funds from non-profit foundations!


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Robert C. Christesen R.I.P.

We note with sadness the Oct. 12 death of Robert C. Christesen, distinguished baritone, teacher, and administrator. His career as a professional singer took him from the Manhattan School of Music to a 13-year run in Frankfurt and Dortmund with numerous guest engagements along the way. From the mid-’80s he served the Wake County Public Schools, retiring as vice principal of West Cary Middle School in 2009.

The obit is here.

A memorial gathering to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 6:00 p.m. at Mitchell Funeral Home, 7209 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh.

We join his many colleagues, students, and friends throughout the world in mourning his loss as we extend deepest sympathies to his family.

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Pianist James Fogle Pays a Return Visit to the Triangle

Pianist James Fogle, a mainstay of the keyboard department at Meredith for longer than he may wish to recall, lives in Florida now, where he is failing retirement because he is involved in so many different projects. But he was back in town recently for a visit and to present two programs at his old school. The first of these, given in Jones Chapel on the afternoon of the 11th, was dubbed “September 11, 2001: A Meditation.” It was the sort of program that, like weddings and funerals, didn’t lend itself to review. The music was by Mohammed Fairouz, Bach, Debussy, Phil Kline, Robert Ward, William Bolcom, Horace Parlan, and Eve Beglarian. The somber affair, devoid of applause, was just what some of us needed on the 15th anniversary of those attacks on our nation, and the fine program notes set all the music in well-nigh perfect contexts.

His second program, offered in Carswell Concert Hall on the evening of the 13th, was a lecture-recital titled “Impaired and Enabled: Music and Disability.” It featured ten pieces by seven composers who suffered various physical, mental, and/or developmental issues, interspersed with extensive commentary by the presenting artist. The spark for this program was “a remarkable concert” Fogle heard a while back, “put on by the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss [at which] all the pieces performed … were composed by people with varying degrees and types of hearing loss and also performed by musicians with hearing impairments.”

This presentation didn’t really lend itself to review, either, but the lecture was so remarkable we felt it important to preserve it in some way, so with Fogle’s gracious consent and cooperation, we are pleased to be able to do so. Alas, we don’t have his pianistic illustrations, but with thanks to the resource that is YouTube we have nearly everything covered. To read the talk and hear the examples, click here.

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RIP Hiram Black, Long-time NCS Manager – with Memorial Plans

We seem to be in a very sad patch of late. Word has reached us of the death yesterday (9/2) of Hiram Black, 85, an operations manager (and much, much more) for the NC Symphony whose service began in the late Swalin era, long before the orchestra relocated from cramped quarters in Chapel Hill to then-expansive digs in the basement of Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. There’s a memorial page on Facebook, and more information will be shared here as it becomes available. Meanwhile our sympathies go out to Hiram’s family and his numerous friends in the NCS and the greater music community.

Funeral services in Matthews, on 9/10, will be private. The family advises that a memorial service in the Raleigh area will be held later with details t.b.a.*

The formal obit is here.

*The NCS has announced that the November 11, 2016, “Friday Favorites” performance will be dedicated to Hiram’s memory. The orchestra writes: “We are coordinating arrangements with Hiram’s daughters and will be communicating this occasion to local and statewide audiences and friends who may wish to join us for the concert and a post-concert reception.” Info on the event itself is here.

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RIP RTOOT Maestro Sandy Hobgood – with Link to Homily

CHAPEL HILL – W. Sands Hobgood died in an accident August 27 near Brevard, N.C. Sandy will be remembered by many for his love of people and the arts.

A native of Oklahoma, Sandy was schooled in Durham and Greensboro public schools where he developed his flair for theater and his musical talent. As a teenager, he played in a combo on Saturday nights and at the church organ on Sunday mornings, a pattern that he followed all his life. He was driven to connect people through music and laughter, hosting many a party, conducting church choirs, and playing the organ on his many travels.

He earned degrees in mathematics and information science at UNC Chapel Hill and was an avid fan of Tar Heel basketball and the Durham Bulls. He had an award-winning, 30-year career with IBM in research, development and systems architecture in New York, North Carolina and England. Sandy was also one of the original architects of ARPANET, which led to the creation of the Internet. He served for a year as an IBM scientist-in-residence at Bacone College, a school with strong ties to the Cherokee Nation, of which Sandy was an enrolled member.

Sandy took early retirement to begin a second career as church musician and community music impresario. He served congregations in Chapel Hill and Durham, was guest conductor for Chapel Hill’s Messiah Sing-Along, and founded the Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle (RTOOT) in 2008. RTOOT is home base for 50-odd amateur musicians who quite enjoy the experience of community music.

Sandy was the son of the late W.S.H. and Marjorie W. Hobgood and was also predeceased by his brother, J. Wingate Hobgood. He is survived by son Ted Hobgood, daughter Elisabeth Allore, granddaughters Amelia Allore, Grace Allore, and Ava Allore, sister and brother-in-law Margaret and Wayne Martin and nephews Thomas Martin and Joseph Martin.

A service of remembrance [was] held at Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, on Sept. 8 at 3:00 p.m., followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to or to the church or community music program of your choice.

(Reprinted from Triad Cremation Society and Chapel.)


The homily was delivered by Rev. Grace G. Hackney. To read it and see additional details of the service, click here.


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RIP PRC Publicist Connie Mahan – Updated 10/25

Tragic news from UNC:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share with you the news that Connie Mahan, the Associate Director of Communications at PlayMakers Repertory Company, lost her life in an automobile accident on Thursday night (8/25). PRC was blessed to have such a passionate and talented communications professional at the helm of our marketing and public relations department for the past nine years. She was a tireless and dedicated advocate for the value and success of PlayMakers, the Department for Dramatic Arts, and for the University of North Carolina. She was also a dear friend and colleague to many at PRC as well as across the Triangle and Triad.”

The announcement continues, “Her absence will be felt in our offices for a very long time. Our hearts go out to her sister Christine, friends, family and loved ones.

“Further details on services and ways to celebrate Connie’s life and legacy will be forthcoming.”


A private memorial service will be held at Playmakers Rep in late October. There will be no formal obit.


Alas, ’twas booze, according to the N&O. The report is here. That article notwithstanding, no one at PRC has told us the memorial observation is not a private event.


PS (10/25/16): Well, despite PRC’s self-appointed communicator’s statement to the contrary, there was an obit after all, Click here to read it. And as this obit indicates, there was a public gathering in her memory, too, It’s too bad we didn’t know about these in time to act on them (no pun intended).

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Horst Meyer, Long-time Mainstay of Chamber Music in Durham

We regret to convey news of the death of J. Horst Meyer, a physicist, music lover, and gardening enthusiast whose diverse interests and pursuits in Durham and beyond enriched the lives of all he touched. The obit is here.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, to its “General Maintenance Fund.” To donate online, click here.

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