Bad News from Buncombe Co. – And Not Yet Reversed, So Let’s Keep up the Heat in Asheville!

Diana Wortham Theatre

Dear Friends and Supporters:

Thank you.

We are deeply humbled by the overwhelming wave of support that came in the form of emails and calls to Buncombe County Commissioners in the wake of the release of their proposed budget draft cutting 50% of the operational funding for Diana Wortham Theatre and The Asheville Art Museum. We are, of course, deeply disappointed that, despite the large show of support, the budget was passed without further discussion.

This is a sudden decision handed down at a time when the Diana Wortham Theatre is in great transition. On July 1, we begin a new fiscal year, which includes a major transition in leadership. The Next Stage Campaign is in its final stages and, thanks to your support, the Diana Wortham Theatre is poised to expand programming for thousands of Buncombe County residents and visitors. A cut of this magnitude will require a major organizational shift to overcome, but overcome we shall.

Please take a moment to follow up with the commissioners to respectfully thank them for their time and for listening:,,,,,,

Respectfully let them know what their decision to reduce funding by 50% – in effect cutting vital funding by $175,000 – means to you as a community member. Now, more than ever, we must continuously communicate the importance of the vital programming and services that Diana Wortham Theatre has provided to this community for more than 20 years.

This budget cut is a challenge, but one we will face head on. Rest assured that the staff and board at Diana Wortham Theatre remain unwavering in our dedication to this community and the programming that brings the performing arts to more than 50,000 patrons each season, allows 10,000 children learn through the arts, and provides a home to more than 20 arts groups.

With sincere gratitude,

Rae Geoffrey,
Incoming Managing Director

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106,491 Pageviews/Month — But Who Appreciates Our Work?

How Do We Convert that Readership to Revenue?

Classical Voice of North Carolina ( has posted in 2016-17:

•  3,437 unique events
•  6,325 individual performances & exhibits

•  362 features and reviews
•  115 previews provided by presenters with ad buys/exchanges
•  Links on Facebook ( and Twitter (CVNCorg)
8,261 total reviews, features and previews in archives

•  Do you use calendar to find events to attend?
•  Look for previews to learn more about a presentation?
•  Read our reviews and share them with friends?

Your financial support is vital to the future of We want to maintain our current level of services, but to do that we need current donors to step up, and we need your help to identify new donors. We can no longer sustain shortfalls – our cash reserves have been exhausted.

How do we keep the website running without donations? As of May 31, we needed $11,070 to end the fiscal year in the black. We pay our writers, editors, website providers, and all administrative costs on a small budget.

CVNC is the only 501c(3) nonprofit online arts journal covering all of North Carolina. This year we’ve published reviews of soloists, university music, theatre, and dance ensembles, touring artists of all kinds, and a bit of visual arts. Do you see this array anywhere else? Would you miss us if we ceased publication?

DONATE  TODAY.  Go to to learn how you can support our work.

CVNC Budget 2016-17

$57.405      Programs (editors, contracted writers’ fees, internet charges)
$17,120      Administrative (salary, postage, printing, etc.
$74,525      TOTAL EXPENSES

Income to date
$21,820     Contributions from individuals & foundations
$30,048     Government, org. & corporate grants
$11,502      Advertising income
$       85      Interest, etc.
$63,455     TOTAL INCOME

$11,070     NEED TO RAISE by JUNE 30

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With Heavy Hearts We Bid Farewell

Three important figures in the arts in central N.C. took leave of us in the past week. All were passionately devoted to their work. All significantly enriched the lives of those they intersected in their careers. In the overall scheme of things, each departed too soon. All will be missed. Our hearts go out to their families, their many friends, and all who were touched by them.

Conductor Robert Gutter was 79. With thanks to Norman Lebrecht: “The daughter of Robert Gutter, former music director of the Springfield Symphony and founder of the International Institute of Conducting, has posted news of his death.

“Gutter was director of orchestral activities for the past 20 years at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Born in 1938 in New York City and graduating from Yale, he also studied in Siena with Franco Ferrara.

“He was Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine in Kiev from 1996-2000 and subsequently of the Philharmonic Orchestra Mihail Jora of Bacau, Romania.”

He also served as Music Director of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra immediately prior to Fouad Fakhouri’s ten-year tenure – alas, this was before CVNC extended its reach to Cumberland County.

His name appears in 23 reviews in CVNC, starting in 2001, mostly at UNCG, where he led orchestral programs and opera, and also with the Philharmonia of Greensboro. Use the site’s search engine to call them up.

A photo and video and additional comments are here.

And there’s additional information from the N&R here.


Jeannie Opperman Mellinger, 70, served as communications director of the NC Symphony from 2000-12 and was editor of the orchestra’s Opus Magazine during that tenure. In these capacities we CVNCers and other workers in the music business were in frequent contact with and frequent beneficiaries of her tireless efforts to promote the work of our state orchestra within N.C.

Her son Sam posted notice of her death on Facebook:

“Hello friends. An update from Jeannie’s family – sadly, she passed away early Thursday morning. No pain, no suffering, but a huge hole in all of our hearts.”

The memorial will be held Friday, June 9, at 2 p.m.. at the Washington Duke Inn.

“If you are so moved, please send donations (in lieu of flowers) to one of two organizations she loved and supported:

Mallarme Chamber Players ( where she served as a board member

Kidznotes: Changing the life trajectory of underserved K-12 students through orchestral training (

“Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and support. She would have loved all of them.”


Chuck Davis, 80, was truly a larger-than-life figure here and beyond as a principal exemplar of African and African-American dance, chiefly but not totally within the context of his African American Dance Ensemble. His death leaves a void that will require many folks to join together to begin to fill. He was without exception always a positive force to be reckoned with in public although it is a fact that he was the gentlest and most gracious of giants backstage. We last saw him in action during the memorial service held at Archives and History for Andrea Lawson late last fall. We are richly blessed by the ongoing work of Davis’ many students around the world, so his legacy absolutely lives on.

His formal obit is here.

An article from the New York Times is available here.


We will update the other two reports if and when longer write-ups are available and all three when memorial details are known.

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Krisztina Dér and Wayne Reich: Flutist and Video Artist Meet at the Cutting Edge

By Nicholas Rich

April 28, 2017, Greensboro, NC: In Central North Carolina, an unlikely duo is exploring the boundaries of multimedia art. Flutist Krisztina Dér and videographer Wayne Reich have joined forces for And Then There Was Light, an intermedia project combining contemporary flute music with lighting concepts.

Dér’s interest in combining sound and light began when she performed George Crumb’s 20th-century masterpiece Vox Balaenae. In his score, Crumb asks the performers wear masks and perform under blue lighting. “I’m fascinated by the idea of utilizing light and sound — both forms of kinetic energy — in a single, synergistic work of art” says Dér.

While pursuing her M.M. degree at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Dér delved deeper into the intersection of flute and light by commissioning Michael Rothkopf‘s “I Dream of Coloured Inks.” Now completing her doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Dér has devoted her dissertation research and performance energy to this project, commissioning a further four pieces.

Dér found a like mind in Reich, a photographer, videographer, and musician interested in the potential of merging the aural and visual. “Krisztina and I met over coffee” says Reich, “and our ideas about music and light seemed to line up so well.”

In addition to the original Rothkopf composition, the project includes works by Anna Meadors, Jacob Thiede, Kyle Rowan, and Stuart Saunders Smith. Dér asked each of the composers to include a lighting concept as part of the piece. The results encompassed a huge variety of aesthetic and technical realms.

“In Dr. Rothkopf’s piece, the lighting is controlled by a computer program that is connected to three lighting units” explains Dér. “In the Meadors, a lighting technician executes the lighting design by controlling a lighting board. And in the Smith, the lighting element is performed by eight ‘lumanists,’ or individuals holding flashlights.”

Reich brought the project to life with compelling and carefully-staged video productions. His role was more than to document; Reich brought his artistry to bear on the complex task of rendering spatial art in video.

“My goal was to serve the music and each composer’s intention by creating a cinematic video of Krisztina’s performances while working around the constraints of the lighting design already in place” says Reich. “Most of my creative expression came in the form of camera position and operation, lens selection, editing, and color-grading. In a few places, I employed supplementary lighting where necessary.”

Three of the five pieces are by composers with ties to North Carolina. Rothkopf is on the composition faculty at UNCSA, while Thiede and Meadors both completed Master’s degrees at UNCG.

Rothkopf is known for designing sophisticated audio software that interacts with live performers. “I Dream of Coloured Inks” expands this concept by using interactive software to create both an electronic sound accompaniment and visual responses to two flutists. This is a crafty, angular piece characterized by shimmering metallic sounds from the computer and wonderfully jagged melodies in the flutes. The lighting is warm, soft, and immersive, enveloping both stage and musicians.

Jacob Thiede, currently a doctoral student at the University of North Texas, also used software to create his piece, “And Everything In-Between.” Thiede crafts a rich aural tapestry by not simply pairing digital and acoustic, but actually mixing them: the electronic accompaniment uses recorded and processed flute samples to spread out the performer’s sounds both spatially and temporally. As the sounds fragment, so do the projections. Mysterious blues and greens blink on and off rapidly in simulated malfunction and decay.

Anna Meadors, a PhD student at Princeton, chose an entirely acoustic landscape with “At Daybreak.” Don’t let the lack of computer fool you: by specifying timbral effects in the flute and adding a live percussionist, Meadors builds a powerful sonic fabric. Mirroring her approach to the music, Meadors asks a live lighting engineer to accompany the musicians. With every artistic element controlled in real time by human hands, “At Daybreak” has a wonderful elastic quality.

And Then There Was Light is a bold and compelling project. Asked to summarize her goals, a humble Krisztina Dér looks outward to her community.

“I hope to stimulate further adventures in music and light intermedia as a holistic art form — both for performers and composers.”

Note: See installments of the project as they are released at Krisztina Der’s blog:

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And Now, A Message from One of Our Sponsors

United Arts Supports HB 13 to Preserve Funding for Arts Education Teachers

Eleanor Oakley, President and CEO of United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, released the following statement:

On behalf of the children of Wake County Public Schools and across the state, we stand in support of HB 13 to preserve funding for arts education teachers. Arts education is critically important for children’s development. Visual art, music, theatre, and dance – already constrained under extremely tight budgets – are known to have lasting, positive impacts on the lives of students. The arts build confidence and the ability to work collaboratively, helping students become strong leaders. The arts help students learn math equations and learn about weather systems. The arts keep students interested in school – and the arts keep students in school. The arts are versatile – and they are essential.

When cutting arts classes and laying off teachers is an option, the legislature needs to respond with a solution. Cutting arts classes and laying off teachers should never be an option. Our children’s education should not, and need not, suffer because of an unintended consequence to limiting class size – a reasonable objective. We look to state leaders to make sound judgments in the best interest of the children in our state and to seek counsel from the school systems that serve those children. We appreciate that the House unanimously passed this bill, and urge the Senate to do the same.

As the designated arts council in Wake County, we work closely with schools across the county, including a formal partnership with Wake County Public School System. On a daily basis, we are in contact with the PTA volunteers, teachers, and staff who work tirelessly to bring visiting artists to their schools through our Artists in Schools program, a unique opportunity for students to engage with professional artists. We know the arts teachers in Wake County are vital to the success of Artists in Schools; we know they are vital to our children’s success. We have the same goals for students in Wake County. These students need teachers of the arts in our schools next year. And the next year. And the next.

For more information, contact Karla Heinen at or 919-839-1498, ext. 211.

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Barbara Rowan Whang, R.I.P.

The distinguished pianist and Milhaud scholar Barbara Rowan has died, her son Paul announced on Facebook, late on March 25. She was well known for her work with her husband, Fritz Whang, and as a long-time teacher in the UNC Music Department. She and Charlottesville-based Content Sablinsky also gave numerous duo and two-piano recitals over the years. We join her many friends, admirers, and students around the world in extending sympathies to her family. The obit appears immediately below, followed by tributes including her son’s farewell note.

Barbara Rowan Whang

Born in San Francisco on September 7, 1932, to James Arthur Harris and Roma Pool Harris, she died peacefully in her sleep on March 25, 2017. She is survived by her husband, Francis; daughter, Sheila Rowan Hill; son, Paul Rowan; stepdaughter, Maia Whang Arteel; and eight grandchildren.

Barbara attended public schools in Oakland, California, and won a scholarship to Mills College to study composition with Darius Milhaud and piano with Egon Petri. She received both the BA and MM degrees from Mills.

Following a year in Paris as a Fulbright scholar for advanced study with Milhaud, she returned to her alma mater where she taught piano until 1964. She then moved to Chapel Hill and was a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill piano faculty for nearly four decades. A brilliant soloist, she also enjoyed chamber music, teaming up for a period with four-hand piano partner Content Sablinsky, a fellow Mills College graduate. In 1992, she and colleague (and later, husband) Francis Whang formed the Janus Duo dedicated to solo and duo piano music. In 2010, they moved to Croasdaile Village in Durham where they presented their last public concert there in 2011.

In the course of her musical life, Barbara performed, lectured, conducted master classes, and adjudicated in Belgium, England, Wales, Asia, and many parts of the United States.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 3 p.m. on June 25, 2017, at Croasdaile Village in Durham. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the UNC Barbara Rowan Whang Music scholarship fund being set up in her honor. Tax deductible donations can be made by visiting and selecting the MUSIC AWARDS and HONORS FUND, memo designation in the honor/memory section for the Barbara Rowan Whang scholarship.


From her son Paul: “Dear Mom, It’s really hard to say goodbye. The last few years, as your ability to speak faded, I’ve struggled to remember your voice. I’ve sat with you while trying to guess your responses to my one-sided conversation. I’ve reflexively asked you how you are doing, forgetting that you couldn’t tell me. I’ve discovered I’m terrible at monologues.

“Now, though, I hope you can rest. I hope, in your passing, you knew how much we love you, how much you have given us, and how grateful we are to still hear your voice in what you’ve left behind.

“Rest in Peace, Barbara Rowan Whang

“Love,Your son, Paul”


From J. Don Coleman, founding conductor and long-time leader of the Hickory Choral Society:

“Although it has been 45+ years since she was my teacher I have often thought of her. She was one of the brightest individuals I have ever met. Always encouraging yet thought you could always do more.

“I remember one funny experience she had with Dr. [William S.] Newman which infuriated her.  As you know she studied with Darius Milhaud and actually lived in his Paris apartment one summer. Newman questioned the pronunciation of his name with her. She sent back a note which simply said:  Mi-O.

“Her memory loss for so long is sad.

“Take care, Don”

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Critic Alex Ross on Criticism

The New Yorker‘s distinguished music critic, Alex Ross, writes a column about criticism that echoes many we have penned here as we’ve watched commercial papers reduce again and again the coverage of the arts in their pages – and as their veteran writers fall by the wayside or accept “buy-outs” (and of course when these are offered they have no viable option to taking the cash and departing…). These columns we are talking about are not blogs – they are professionally done, edited, documented, fact-checked, often illustrated, sometimes even foot-noted…. Please remember to support the providers of serious reviews created near you with subscriptions or donations and other forms of encouragement. Here’s Alex’s latest:

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Proposed Trump Budget Would Cut NEA, NEH, and CPB (PBS and NPR)

It’s official: Proposed Trump budget would cut NEA, NEH, and CPB (PBS and NPR) (and never mind Meals on Wheels…).

Here are the first three paragraphs from the NY Times‘ report of 3/15:

“A deep fear came to pass for many artists, museums, and cultural organizations nationwide early Thursday morning when President Trump, in his first federal budget plan, proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“President Trump also proposed scrapping the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a key revenue source for PBS and National Public Radio stations, as well as the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“It was the first time a president has called for ending the endowments. They were created in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation declaring that any “advanced civilization” must fully value the arts, the humanities, and cultural activity.”

For the whole story, click here

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