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News Release

For immediate use 

March 21, 2006 -- No. 159

Note: To download photos, see end of release.

Musical legacy of Black Mountain College
is focus of UNC’s 2006 Festival on the Hill

CHAPEL HILL — The musical legacy of Black Mountain College will be the focus of the 2006 Festival on the Hill, March 30-April 2 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

National and international scholars and musicians will explore the influence of the western North Carolina college through four concerts and two days of lectures and workshops, all open to the public.

The UNC music department in the College of Arts and Sciences sponsors the festival every other year, with a different focus each time.

Founded in 1933, the small, experimental college near Asheville lasted 24 years. At the core of the college’s philosophy was the belief that a strong liberal and fine arts education must happen both inside and outside the classroom.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the college became a haven for renowned Austro-German artists escaping the tyranny of the Nazis. Cutting-edge American composers and artists including John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg came to Black Mountain to study with these refugees.

The college’s artists produced works together that shook the foundations of 20th-century modernist art, said Dr. Jonathan Hiam, who earned his doctorate in music from UNC in 2005 and wrote his dissertation on the music of Black Mountain. Hiam, who now teaches at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, will speak at the conference.

"Black Mountain was on the vanguard of fostering artistic expression and different modes of thinking," Hiam said. "With the arrival of Heinrich Jalowetz as music director in the early 1940s, the program was instilled with the practices and ideologies of turn-of-the-century Vienna."

Dr. Severine Neff, Eugene Falk Distinguished Professor of music and Hiam’s former adviser, said that the college’s history gives context for exploring the issue of cultures in exile because of a war.

"It was a microcosm of 20th-century issues – of exile, war, race, expansion of art and early music," she said. "It was a refuge for the people who went there, and a haven for experimentalism to grow."

Jalowetz’s daughter, Lisa Jalowetz Aronson, will speak at the UNC festival. Aronson and her late husband, Boris, were New York City set designers.

Mary Emma Harris, director of the Black Mountain College Project, is the festival’s keynote speaker and author of "The Arts at Black Mountain College" and "Remembering Black Mountain."

She became interested in the college in 1969, as a UNC graduate student in art history. For more than 30 years, she has worked to preserve the history of Black Mountain College, which is the mission of the project.

For a detailed schedule of all events, visit http://music.unc.edu/calendars/blackmtn/index_html. Many events will be free.

For others, patrons may buy tickets individually or purchase discounted Festival on the Hill passes for all three concerts in Hill Hall Auditorium. Tickets and festival passes will be sold at the door of the three concerts and in advance in the music department office in Hill, (919) 962-1039, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. A pass costs $25 for the public; $20 for seniors; and $15 for students.

The pass will not cover admission to the March 30 concert in Memorial Hall, for which tickets are on sale at the Memorial box office on Cameron Avenue, (919) 843-3333, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Some festival highlights will be:

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Please credit the N.C. State Archives with publication of photos downloaded from the following Web site about Black Mountain College: http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/archives/bmc_web_page/bmc4.htm

Music department contact: Glenn MacDonald, (919) 962-1039, gmcdonal@email.unc.edu

College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, (919) 962-4093, spurrk@email.unc.edu