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AUGUST 21, 2005
guest column

by Emil Kang, Executive Director of the Arts The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for The Chapel Hill News

I am looking forward to my first autumn in Chapel Hill – the splendor of the turning leaves, football games at Kenan Stadium, and a gentler transition to winter than my family and I experienced in Michigan.

New to the college setting (beyond my years as a student), I can only imagine what the normal pace is before the start of classes and the launch of the new academic year. This year will be well beyond the norm on the excitement and activity front here at Carolina. We’re not just starting a new semester, we’re launching what we call “A Movement to Greatness,” with the reopening of the university’s grand performing arts venue, Memorial Hall, and an unprecedented season line-up for the new Carolina Performing Arts Series.

The transformation of Memorial Hall represents both an investment in our future and a commitment to our community and region. Memorial Hall and Carolina’s other performing arts venues are just a short walk from Franklin Street and the heart of downtown Chapel Hill, and just a stone’s throw from Carrboro. We anticipate that many who come to our performances on campus will enjoy the local shopping and dining.

Campus administrators and student leaders are collaborating with leaders from local government and civic organizations to develop strategies to encourage this kind of downtown foot traffic and patronage. We’re also working together to provide parking and shuttle options to facilitate a safe and enjoyable experience for all who support the performing arts at Carolina.

The season kicks off the weekend of September 9 through 11 with gala celebrations featuring Tony Bennett, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Leonard Slatkin and the North Carolina Symphony. By season’s end, we will have presented more than 700 artists in more than 40 performances. The line-up reflects the breadth and depth of American culture and connection to the greater world, presenting students, faculty, and other local performers as well as artists from as far away as Mali and Senegal.

Our goal is to appeal to the 18-year-old, the retiree, and everyone in between. Performers include Bonnie Raitt and Nanci Griffith, Wynton Marsalis and Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Russian National Orchestra, Midori, DJ Spooky, the Symphony, Carolina Ballet, and more.

The performing arts are a gateway to the University, connecting us with the larger community and, I hope, connecting you to Carolina.

Memorial Hall has played a dominant role in campus life for more than a century. Now, after being dark for three years, the newly transformed Hall has been greatly expanded and enhanced, with comfortable seating, air conditioning and additional restrooms, and a stage that can house full symphonies, ballets, and Broadway productions. The campus master plan positions Memorial Hall as the centerpiece for a new Arts Common that also incorporates historic Playmakers Theater, Gerrard Hall, the Ackland Art Museum, and a planned music hall with performance space. Community leaders worked with the University to create the plan.

I invite you to join us for our third opening weekend event, “Carolina Performs,” on Sunday, September 11 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. This free daylong celebration highlights the spectrum of student talent on campus, from rock bands, jazz combos, classical music, and theatrical scenes to comedy acts and dance. Show up any time and catch a rising star.

For more information on the season line-up and to see which performances might most appeal to you and your family, visit or call the box office at (919) 843-3333. Subscription packages are on sale now; tickets for individual performances go on sale a week from tomorrow: August 29.

I hope to see you at a performance soon. Please say hello and let me know what you think of our “Movement to Greatness” – and my personal quest to make the arts as popular as Carolina basketball.

Emil Kang is executive director for the arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the university in January after a five-year run as president and executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He and his family live in Chapel Hill.

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