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Western Carolina Galaxy of Stars Series Opens with Masters of Motown

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC – The Galaxy of Stars Series at Western Carolina University opens its seventh season with the Masters of Motown’s “A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A.,” featuring many of the greatest hits from the legendary Motown era. The inaugural show of the 2011-12 series will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at WCU.

Based in Virginia Beach, Va., Masters of Motown features a 10-member cast that has toured extensively together for decades. Audiences can expect to hear plenty of hits from Motown artists such as the Temptations, the Supremes, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Gladys Knight and the Pips and many others. Masters of Motown’s dynamic vocalists are backed by a band of seasoned musicians.

John Hodgens, vocalist-bandleader, formed the group in 1973 after graduating from high school in Virginia. “We eventually put the Motown show together as a tribute to this special music that doesn’t grow old. There’s a lot of choreography and flashy outfits reminiscent of the good old days,” Hodgens said.

“It’s pretty much like ‘Hitsville U.S.A.,’ when Berry Gordy got all his groups together, piled them into a tour bus, and drove around to different venues to perform a Motown revue that would show off all his different acts. The Temptations would come on stage and do their thing, then the Supremes would come out, followed one by one by the other acts,” said Hodgens, who said his Masters of Motown show, sponsored locally by Jackson County radio station WRGC-AM, evokes some of the same feelings of those early tours.

This is the seventh season of Galaxy of Stars performances. The series began in 2005 and features world-class theater, music and dance staged in the Bardo Arts Center and presented by the College of Fine and Performing Arts. The Grascals, named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers of the in 2006 and 2007, will continue the 2011-12 Galaxy of Stars Series with a performance Sunday, Oct. 9.

Ticket prices for the Masters of Motown’s “A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A.” are $20 for adults and seniors; $15 for faculty and staff; $10 for groups of 20 or more; and $5 for children and students. Subscriptions for the entire Galaxy of Stars Series are $100 for adults; $90 for seniors; $80 for faculty/staff; and $25 for students/children.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, contact the Bardo Arts Center box office by phone at 828-227-2479 or online at fapac.wcu.edu.

‘Liars Bench’ Show Returns to Mountain Heritage Center on Aug. 4

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center will host and sponsor a free performance of “The Liars Bench” Southern Appalachian variety show at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4.

“The Liars Bench” was founded by Sylva writer and storyteller Gary Carden in June 2010, and the show’s cast presented monthly programs at City Lights bookstore in Sylva during its first year. The ensemble gave its first performance in the Mountain Heritage Center auditorium in July to a standing-room-only crowd.

“Cherokee in a Changing World” will be the theme for the upcoming performance at the museum. Cherokee storyteller Lloyd Arneach will speak about the myth of the Nunnihi, Carden will deliver a tale titled “When the Tourist Came,” and Barbara McRae, editor of The Franklin Press newspaper, will give a presentation on the Nikwasi Mound.

Also during the show, Robert Conley, WCU’s Sequoyah Distinguished Professor in Cherokee Studies, will discuss major issues facing the Cherokee people today, as well as present some theories about an ancient Cherokee ritual known as the “Booger Dance.” Barbara Duncan, a musician and poet from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and Liars Bench regular Paul Iarussi, a claw-hammer guitarist, also will perform.

For more information about the show, call the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.

Vienna Boys Choir Headlines Western Carolina’s Galaxy of Stars Series

Monday, June 13th, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC – The John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University announces its seventh Galaxy of Stars Series with a lineup intended to take audiences down memory lane.

Subscriptions to Galaxy of Stars performances – the only professional series in Jackson County – are available through Sept. 10. At $100 for adults, subscriptions offer a substantial savings over individual ticket prices and allow patrons to select and keep preferred seats. The subscription price for individuals aged 60 and older is $90; $80 for WCU faculty and staff; and $25 for students and children.

Individual tickets for the 2011-12 series go on sale Aug. 16. Those prices are $20 for adults; $15 for WCU faculty and staff; $10 per person for groups of 20 and more; and $5 for students and children.

The 2011-12 season lineup follows:

Masters of Motown, 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11. There will be dancing in the aisles with this celebration of the music and style of artists including the Temptations, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, the Four Tops, Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder. Masters of Motown features stylish costumes and fully choreographed tributes backed by a live band.

The Grascals: “Dance ’Till Your Stockings Are Hot and Ravelin,” 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9. The Grascals, named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers of the Year in 2006 and 2007, pay musical tribute to “The Andy Griffith Show” with their trademark take on traditional bluegrass and classic country. The Grascals built a reputation performing with Dolly Parton and have shared the stage with Brooks & Dunn, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless, Mac Wiseman, J.D. Crowe, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Steve Wariner and Vince Gill.

Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and the Pied Pipers, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9. One of the most popular groups of the 1940s, backed by one of the 20th-century’s most popular big bands, delivers a program filled with classics from the era, plus favorite holiday songs. This show will bring back memories of music from the years of World War II and holidays spent with family and friends.

Neil Berg’s “100 Years of Broadway,” 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27. In this revue of Broadway’s most beloved songs, five stars of Broadway, backed by a live band, re-create the finest moments from the greatest musicals of the century. The production features treasures from Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber from shows including “Phantom of the Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “Jersey Boys,” “Chicago,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Jekyll & Hyde.”

The Vienna Boys Choir, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6. Founded in 1498, the Vienna Boys Choir is one of the oldest, most famous boys choir in the world, with a repertoire that includes medieval, contemporary and experimental music. Long a fixture in Austrian musical life, four choirs of boys ages 10-14 now perform hundreds of times a year worldwide.

– “That Mancini Magic,” 3 p.m. Sunday, April 29. The renowned pianist Mac Frampton and Cecil Welch, Henri Mancini’s solo trumpeter for 20 years, bring the great American composer’s cherished melodies to the stage. Supported by the Moon River Orchestra, an ensemble of violins, saxophone and rhythm, “That Mancini Magic” includes “Moon River,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” “Charade,” “Peter Gunn,” “The Pink Panther Theme” and “Baby Elephant Walk.”

The Galaxy of Stars series debuted in 2005 with the opening of the Bardo Center. Since then, the center has marked more than 100,000 visitors and has earned a position as a premier arts and entertainment venue in Western North Carolina.

To purchase tickets, or for more information about Galaxy of Stars events or the Bardo Center, contact the box office at 828-227-2479 or go online to www.fapac.wcu.edu.

Good Old Time Camp to be offered June 20-24

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC – Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center, arts programs and Hunter Library are joining forces to offer a summer day camp for children beginning Monday, June 20, and continuing through Friday, June 24.

The Good Old Time Camp will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

“This new all-day camp builds on the success of our previous half-day camps like Eco-Adventures and Mountain Mysteries,” said Peter Koch, educational associate at the Mountain Heritage Center. “Now that it’s a full day, kids will have more time to explore cultural topics, and thanks to the cooperation of WCU’s arts programs, they also will be able to do some really interesting and fun hands-on crafts in the afternoon.”

The program will focus on the culture of the region, including the Cherokee and pioneer experience. Children will spend time investigating and creating crafts such as mask-making, quilting, candle-making, open-hearth cooking and pottery-making. They also will experience a performance of old-time music and go on fieldtrips to local sites of natural and historic interest.

The camp will end with a day of show-and-tell during which the children will present their activities and creations to their families.

Sponsored in part by the Jackson County Arts Council, the camp is designed for rising fourth- through sixth-graders.

Tuition is $80 per child, with lunch provided at the WCU dining hall. Registration is limited to the first 16 children and the deadline to register is Friday, June 3.

To register or for more information, contact WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397 or go online to www.wcu.edu/28903.asp.

Authors Converge in Cullowhee

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC The annual Spring Literary Festival at Western Carolina University will be held this year from Sunday, April 3, though Thursday, April 7, on the WCU campus.

The festival, in its ninth year, has a long tradition of bringing established and emerging literary talent to Western North Carolina. All Spring Literary Festival events are free and the public is invited. Unless otherwise noted, events take place in the theater of the A.K. Hinds University Center. Authors will sign works after each reading. A full schedule is available on the festival website.

Two highly anticipated events bookend this year’s festival. Starting things off, Elizabeth Kostova, author of “The Historian,” will read and take questions at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 3, in Illusions, in the University Center. “The Historian,” a tale of three generations of historians on the track of the original Dracula, was the fastest-selling debut novel in American publishing history. Rob Neufeld, book critic for the Asheville Citizen-Times, will moderate a live Web simulcast of the event to allow remote viewer participation.

Ending the festival is author Alan Weisman, whose “The World Without Us” was a New York Times best-seller and named best nonfiction book of 2007 by both Time Magazine and Entertainment Weekly. The book, translated into 30 languages, explores the fate of the natural and man-made environment should humans suddenly disappear. Weisman will read and speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in the recital hall of WCU’s Coulter Building.

Three former N.C. poets laureate, Fred Chappell, Kathryn Stripling Byer and Cathy Smith Bowers, will be honored just prior to the Weisman reading during a 5:30 p.m. reception April 7 in Illusions, with each reading from his or her work. RSVP for the reception (for individuals 21 and older) by Thursday, March 24, to Sherri Roper at 828-227-3268 or [email protected].

Other festival authors are:

– Délana Dameron, whose debut collection, “How God Ends Us,” won the 2008 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize

– David Gessner, author of six books of literary nonfiction, including “Sick of Nature,” “Soaring with Fidel” and “Return of the Osprey,” which was chosen as one of the top 10 nonfiction books of the year in 2001 by The Boston Globe

– Don Lee, author of two novels, “Wrack and Ruin” and “Country of Origin,” as well as a story collection, “Yellow”

– Bret Lott, best-selling author of 12 books, most recently the novel “Ancient Highway,” as well as “Jewel,” an Oprah Book Club pick

– Lee Martin, author of the novels “The Bright Forever,” a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, “River of Heaven,” “Quakertown” and the forthcoming “Break the Skin”

– Ginger Murchison, founder of Georgia Tech’s poetry program and reading series whose first collection of poems, “Out Here,” was published in 2008

– Susan Vreeland, author of several art-related novels, including the “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” (made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame production in 2003), which traces an alleged Vermeer painting through the centuries, revealing its influence on those who possessed it

– Frank X Walker, author of four poetry collections, “When Winter Come: The Ascension of York,” “Black Box: Poems,” “Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York,” which won the Lillian Smith Book Award in 2004, and “Affrilachia”

Literary Festival sponsors include WCU’s Visiting Writers Series; the Department of English; the Arts and Cultural Events Series; the Office of the Chancellor; the Office of the Provost; the Division of Student Affairs; and the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. The project also received support from the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Visitors may park in any spaces not designated as special-use. For directions to campus, go online to www.wcu.edu/545.asp.

For more information about the WCU Literary Festival, contact Mary Adams, literary festival director, at 828-227-3270 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Visit the festival website at www.litfestival.org, where expanded content this year features links to reader guides and to Facebook discussion pages.

Autism walk April 9 at Western Carolina University

Monday, March 21st, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC – Western Carolina University’s Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity will host its second annual Autism Awareness Walk from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9, on the A.K. Hinds University Center lawn.

This event is open to the public. The walk will raise funds for Alpha Xi Delta’s philanthropic partner, Autism Speaks, the largest science research and advocacy organization for autism in the United States. The organization’s mission is to find treatments, prevention and a cure for autism spectrum disorder. “Alpha Xi Delta’s mission is inspiring women to realize their potential through acts of community service, such as this event,” said Alisha Lambert of Alpha Xi Delta.

The event will feature games, face painting, a T-shirt sale, food and drinks. Grove Worship, the house band for The Grove Church, will play live music.

Tickets can be purchased on the UC lawn for $10 starting Monday, March 28, and on the day of the event.

For more information, contact Lambert at

NC House Speaker to Deliver Address at Western Carolina Univeristy’s American Youth Congress

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC – The 11th annual American Youth Congress, to be held Saturday, April 16, will feature a keynote address by N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Tillis, a resident of Mecklenberg County, was first elected to the N.C. House of Representatives in 2006. Tillis was elected to his current position as speaker of the house on Jan. 26 of this year.

The Public Policy Institute presents the American Youth Congress each year with the goals of teaching the importance of civic education and responsible citizenship to middle school and high school students in Western North Carolina. The event strives to equip youth with the knowledge and importance of civic duty by providing them with the opportunity to have a hands-on experience of the legislative process, in addition to the chance to speak to and learn from local political representatives.

Students are required to draft sample pieces of legislation concerning issues of their communities and present them during the floor session of the AYC.  Students must also be ready to debate their drafted legislation in committees to gain support.

The WCU Public Policy Institute was founded in 2001 for the purpose of addressing public policy problems and issues that affect Western North Carolina. The organization helps to get students actively involved in their communities, and conducts research on major political issues that affect the region.

For more information about the AYC or WCU’s Public Policy Institute, call 828-227-3861.

Jackson County Student Art on Exhibit March 14-April 11 at WCU

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

CULLOWHEE, NC – Western Carolina University will celebrate the artwork of regional schoolchildren with the 2011 Jackson County Youth Art Month exhibit, from Monday, March 14, through Monday, April 11, in the lobby of WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center.

A reception will be held from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, April 10, in the Star Lobby (just outside WCU’s Fine Art Museum, also in the Fine and Performing Arts Center). An announcement of prizewinners will be at 1:30 p.m. in FAPAC Room 130. More than 75 awards are given each year, with approximately 500 people attending the reception. The event is free and the public is invited.

For more than 35 years, WCU has hosted Youth Art Month, an annual and national observance that emphasizes the value of art education for all children and encourages public support for quality school art programs. Each year, more than 3,000 viewers come to appreciate work by students in kindergarten through 12th grade, selected by school art teachers for exhibition, said Erin Tapley, event organizer and associate professor of art education in WCU’s School of Art and Design, part of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. WCU Art Education Club students select work for awards, with some winning work included in the permanent Youth Art Month collection housed in WCU’s Killian Building and lent to the Jackson County Board of Education on a rotating basis.

“The focus of Youth Art Month is to convey the message that art education develops self-esteem, visual literacy and an ability to produce meaningful material form,” Tapley said. “Jackson County is fortunate to have an art teacher in each of its public schools who educates students in the history and aesthetics of art-making and gives them opportunities to critically analyze the meaning of art in their daily lives,” Tapley said.

Participating schools and their art teachers are Smoky Mountain High School (Gayle Woody and Ben Cook); Scotts Creek School (Barbara Wilkes); Cullowhee Valley School (Penelope Adams); Fairview School (Leah Ayling); School of Alternatives, or Hub (Kansas Heiskell); Smokey Mountain Elementary School (Jenniffer Dall); Blue Ridge School (John Speier); Summit Charter School (Leslie Rosenberg); and Mountain Discovery School (Corky Ashcroft).

Event sponsors include the Jackson County Arts Council and WCU’s Art Education Club, School of Art and Design, and College of Education and Allied Professions.

The Fine and Performing Arts Center lobby is open from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and during performance

AIDS Memorial Quilt to be Displayed Nov. 17-20

Monday, November 1st, 2010

CULLOWHEE, NC – Western Carolina University will display nine of the more than 40,000 blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt from Wednesday, Nov. 17, to Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Fine Art Museum.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt, founded in 1987 and facilitated by the NAMES Project Foundation, serves as an educational tool to promote the awareness of AIDS and the devastating impact of the disease. Each 12-foot block of the quilt is made up of panels that memorialize the life of a person lost to AIDS.

“What I find really interesting about the AIDS Memorial Quilt is that it not only is a piece of art, but also a prevention tool for HIV/AIDS,” said Holly Sorensen, wellness specialist with WCU campus recreation and wellness. “The quilt also serves as a beacon of hope for finding a cure.”

Lori Davis, assistant director for campus activities, said the event, which was timed to coincide with the performance of the musical “Rent” at WCU, will help spark conversations about an important but often taboo topic of HIV and AIDS. In Jonathan Larson’s “Rent,” a group of struggling New York artists and musicians are affected by the disease.

“HIV/AIDS is a topic often shied away from, and these two events offer a powerful way to have discussions on our campus about HIV and AIDS,” said Davis.

When WCU hosted panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in 2007, comments from visitors ranged from expressing discomfort to conveying that nobody wants to get tested, which emphasized to event organizers the importance of hosting educational programs about the disease.

Visitors can view the quilt panels from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17, and Thursday, Nov. 18; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19; and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20. An opening ceremony will be held in partnership with the Western NC AIDS Project at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17.

At the closing ceremony, set for 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, in advance of a 7 p.m. performance of “Rent” at WCU, Peter Koch, education specialist at the Mountain Heritage Center, will discuss the history of quilting.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt committee is looking for more volunteers to help with the event, and to guard sections of the quilt during the exhibit. For more information, contact Jennifer Cooper, assistant director of service learning at WCU, at [email protected] or 828-227-2595.

Washington Center Honors Western Carolina University

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Western Carolina University is among six universities from across the nation to be recognized by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars for exceptional commitment to civic engagement and service learning.

The Washington Center has named Western Carolina a recipient of a 2010 Higher Education Civic Engagement Award, to be presented at the annual academic award luncheon Monday, Oct. 4, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The six honorees were chosen from among 120 nominees.

“Western Carolina University is a true role model for civic engagement in the academic community,” said Mike Smith, president of the Washington Center. “The university is teaching students a quality that can’t be learned in the classroom alone – the importance of getting involved, giving back and making a difference.”

The national honor is based in part on WCU’s recent emphasis on incorporating civic engagement into the undergraduate experience through its Quality Enhancement Plan. The QEP requires students to develop an “education briefcase” – an electronic repository in which they will document their learning.

The award also recognizes the university’s Center for Service Learning, which develops campus-community partnerships, monitors engagement initiatives and assesses project outcomes. The Center for Service Learning hosts an annual symposium that welcomes participants from across the country. Civic engagement efforts by WCU students, faculty and staff have included planting a garden to help reduce regional food insecurity, assisting the municipality of Dillsboro with economic recovery, and participating in post-hurricane revitalization efforts in nearby Canton.

“The Washington Center’s Award for Higher Education Civic Engagement strengthens our national presence in civic and community engagement practice,” said Carol Burton, WCU’s assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate studies. “This national recognition for our increasing emphasis on civic engagement is a validation of the efforts of faculty, staff and students at WCU.”

Burton praised the efforts of the Center for Service Learning, director Glenn Bowen and assistant director Jennifer Cooper for their role in advancing an institutional mission of community and civic engagement.

“All members of the university community, our alumni, board of trustees and our community partners share this honor because all have contributed to our efforts in being selected to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with five other exemplary institutions,” she said.

This marks the second consecutive honor for Western Carolina from the Washington Center, which last year awarded honorable mention to WCU for its civic engagement activities.

The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries by providing selected students challenging opportunities to work and learn in Washington, D.C., for academic credit. The largest program of its kind, the Washington Center has close to 40,000 alumni who have become leaders in numerous professions and nations around the world. It was established in 1975.

For more information about service learning at WCU, contact Glenn Bowen, director of service learning, at 828-227-7184 or [email protected].