AUGUST 2005 NEW ERA FOR THE PERFORMING
ARTS DAWNS FOR CAROLINA, THIS COMMUNITY By Chancellor James Moeser The University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill Herald
I trained as an organist but know that one doesn’t
have to be a musician to appreciate the attributes of a fine
performance in a great hall. Get ready, neighbors! Stellar
performances at a state-of-the-art yet classic hall in your
own backyard are close enough to touch.
There is extra excitement on campus as classes prepare to
begin Tuesday. Historic Memorial Hall, a performance space
completed in 1931, reopens next week after three years and
$18 million of renovation and expansion.
Structurally and programmatically, Memorial Hall anchors
a new era for the performing arts at Carolina, something we’re
calling “A Movement to Greatness.” The season
that launches with a gala opening weekend Sept. 8-11 boasts
more than 40 performances featuring everything from classical,
American roots and jazz music to jazz, ballet and modern dance;
internationally-acclaimed puppeteers and symphony orchestras
– more than 700 performers in all.
Personally, I can’t wait for the season to begin. And
I hope you and your family can be with us to celebrate this
renaissance in the performing arts at the nation’s first
public university and this state’s flagship university.
The richness of this community is enhanced by a strong performing
arts program. Indeed, the performing arts and Carolina’s
planned Arts Common in the area of campus bordered by Franklin
and Columbia streets to the north and east and Country Club
and Cameron to the east and south provides a gateway to the
University and a connection to the larger community. Our award-winning
campus master plan positions Memorial Hall as the centerpiece
for an Arts Common incorporating Playmakers Theater, Gerrard
Hall, the Ackland Art Museum, and a planned music building
and concert hall.
We are grateful for the extensive involvement by community
leaders in our vision for the arts common. And we appreciate
the high level of interest being shown by downtown merchants
and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce in capitalizing
on the reopening of Memorial. It’s a great opportunity
for us all.
The new Memorial will be officially dedicated in a 1 p.m.
ceremony and open house on Sept. 8. Then the gala weekend
commences with performances by Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman,
Pinchas Zukerman, Leonard Slatkin and the North Carolina Symphony.
There will be a few surprises, too!
Anyone who enjoyed a performance or a commencement in Memorial
Hall previously will remember – perhaps not so fondly
– a dearth of restrooms and air-conditioning that consisted
of open windows on either side of the auditorium.
Not to worry. The renovations bring with them central air
conditioning and expanded restroom space.
Access and comfort outside the hall, too, are a priority.
Parking is often challenging on college campuses and in quaint
downtowns. The situation is no different here in Chapel Hill.
With that in mind, administrators from the Town of Chapel
Hill and the University have been collaborating for months
to make parking available nearby Memorial on campus and off.
We hope many patrons will enjoy dinner in Chapel Hill or
Carrboro before taking in a performance at Memorial Hall and
we want to make both experiences as enjoyable and effortless
As we are doing with projects across the campus, we’ve
expanded this treasure with an eye toward sustainability.
Rather than throw away the old seats, at least 300 of them
found a new home in a different theatre. A basement was dug
to accommodate dressing rooms and mechanical equipment, in
order to keep footprint expansion to a minimum. Indeed this
new day at Memorial marries state-of-the-art lighting and
sound with special touches from this great hall’s past,
among them a chandelier and four new “baby” chandeliers
to match it. The stone markers memorializing those who came
before Memorial’s opening and those who helped to make
its birth a reality have been restored and displayed prominently
in the lobby and side hallways. And the names of many new
donors who’ve made this hall’s renovation reality
join them in the lobby.
If you’ve not been to campus in a while or are on campus
daily but have missed having a lively performance arts life
here, the wait is indeed over.
Memorial’s new box office is open and season packages
remain available. Tickets to individual performances go on
sale tomorrow (Aug. 29). For more information, visit www.unc.edu/performingarts.
“Carolina Performs” – the third opening
weekend event – is a free, daylong celebration highlighting
the spectrum of student talent on our campus, from jazz combos
and string quartets to rock bands, theatrics, comedy acts
and dance. I’ll be kicking things off at 2 p.m., but
you and your family are invited to drop by at any point between
then and 11 p.m. You just may catch a rising star!
I hope you’ll join your friends and neighbors in this
celebration of the performing arts. Perhaps I’ll see
you at an intermission soon. Enjoy the show!
James Moeser is the ninth chancellor of the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Readers may reach Moeser
at firstname.lastname@example.org or
find him enjoying every free moment taking in performances
at Memorial Hall.