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Saturday January 28th

Commissioned works provide opportunities for UNC performing groups

UNC music professor Stephen Anderson (on the piano) premiered his original composition, “Dysfunctional.”  DTH/Daixi Xu
Buy Photos UNC music professor Stephen Anderson (on the piano) premiered his original composition, “Dysfunctional.” DTH/Daixi Xu

World premieres and commissioned pieces are a common theme among the arts at UNC.

These bring something new and unique to not only the University, but the community at large, several UNC faculty members and officials said.

“Universities are the most appropriate places to invest in creativity,” said Executive Director for the Arts Emil Kang.

Created in 2005, the Carolina Performing Arts has now commissioned or co-commissioned 15 new works.

Kang said he believes the process of investing in and supporting the creativity of the artists is just as important, if not more important, than the final work.

He emphasized that when commissioning pieces, he often does not know what to expect and does not necessarily have to like the final product to appreciate it.

Many universities around the country, such as UCLA, have collaborated with CPA in commissioning new works. A theater company in Switzerland even collaborated with CPA on the play “I went to the house but did not enter,” which was commissioned by UNC and Dartmouth College.

The Office of the Executive Director for the Arts and the UNC music department have collaborated on a unique program, 10 x 10, to create new works.

The 10 x 10 series, which started in 2007, commissions one new work per year for 10 years.

The series seeks to pair outside composers with distinguished performers or ensemble directors from the UNC faculty.

“This is a core part of who we are as a program,” Kang said.

The series creates new music and supports artists by providing funds and venues for their work.

This year, the UNC Symphony Orchestra performed the commissioned work of Grammy-nominated composer Michael Gandolfi.

The symphony orchestra also has performed new works commissioned outside of the 10 x 10 series.

On Tuesday the symphony orchestra premiered UNC professor Stephen Anderson’s piece “Dysfunctional,” commissioned by pianist Steven Harlos of Texas.

Conductor Tonu Kalam said that it is an obligation and interest to support colleagues in their endeavors.

Director of UNC Opera Terry Rhodes said world premieres, like Friday’s opening of “Searching for Spinoza,” are huge honors for university programs.

“Having that interaction with the composer and playwright as you are creating a new work is a very special experience,” Rhodes said.

“It creates a very symbiotic relationship to be able to work with the artist as they are creating the piece for you.”

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