Jon Metzger has found that, no matter where work takes him, he bumps into fellow graduates of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. It even happened in Damascus, Syria.
“For such a small place, their influence is so widespread,” Metzger said. “We all become ambassadors for the school.”
Metzger graduated from UNCSA with a bachelor’s degree in percussion performance in 1981. Over the years, he fell in love with teaching as well as performing. He began teaching jazz and percussion at Elon University in 1989. While doing that, he decided to return to the School of the Arts to earn a master’s degree in percussion performance, which he received in 1994. These days, Metzger is Elon’s Artist in Residence and an associate professor of music. He also regularly works with other educational institutions in the state and nationally, giving workshops and master classes at such places as Duke University.
North Carolina has served as a home base for a career that has taken him all over. A winner of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant for Performance, Metzger has performed throughout the United States, and, with his quartet, has toured in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. As a jazz ambassador for the United States Information Agency’s Arts America Program, he played for kings and queens and other heads of state in 20 countries in the Near East, Africa and Central America. Recently, he served as a cultural envoy for the U.S. Embassy in Turkey by working with the music faculty at Haceteppe University, to develop a jazz studies program.
Metzger has played on more than 30 albums, including seven on which he was the lead player. In reviewing one of his albums, the Washington Post said that his music “simultaneously appeals to the head, heart and feet.” He was the first artist profiled on the Southern Arts Federation’s radio program, “Jazz South,” and his book “The Art and Language of Jazz Vibes” is in its second edition. Metzger has composed more than 50 pieces covering two different mediums: jazz and classical percussion ensemble. He also designed a vibraphone mallet that the Pro-Mark Corp. is manufacturing and distributing.
Metzger grew up in Washington, D.C. After considering some larger schools, he came down to take a look at UNCSA. He liked the idea of going to a smaller school where he could work closely with music teachers and perform right away. Once here, he found that becoming friends with and working with artists in other disciplines further enriched his education. Getting ready to accompany dance performances; for instance, he would work closely with dance teachers.
“Hearing from a dance instructor, I learned more about music,” he said.
He regularly promotes the school to those with whom he comes into contact. This year, one of his graduating students will head to UNCSA in the fall for further study.
“I am a huge fan of the school,” Metzger said. “It was perfect for me. What it does for so many people and for the community and the state is so amazing.”
Paige Whitley-Bauguess and Barry Bauguess
As performers, teachers and entrepreneurs, Barry Bauguess and Paige Whitley-Bauguess have taken Baroque music and dance to Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Israel and throughout the United States. They always come home to North Carolina.
Bauguess is a trumpet player who specializes in Baroque music. Whitley-Bauguess is a dancer who specializes in Baroque dance. Both graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts (now University of North Carolina School of the Arts). Early on in their careers, they moved to New York for two years to help create a network of professional contacts. That done, they returned to North Carolina to develop their own projects. For many years, they called New Bern home. These days, they live in North Wilkesboro.
Together, they founded the Baroque Arts Project. Since 1999, it has brought early music and dance to audiences throughout North Carolina while collaborating with such groups as the East Carolina University Early Music Ensemble, the Concert Singers of Cary, Chatham Baroque and the New Bern Dancing Assembly.
Bauguess, who grew up in Winston-Salem, earned both a bachelor’s degree in trumpet performance in 1984 and a master’s in chamber music in 1991 from UNCSA. Whitley-Bauguess, who grew up in Charlotte, went to UNCSA as a high school student, continued there as a college student, and, after graduating in 1984, directed the school’s Pre-Professional Dance Program, now known as the Preparatory Dance Program.
Work routinely takes each of them out of the state.
“I teach at Oberlin Conservatory and am a Kulas Visiting Artist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio,” Bauguess said. “I am also principal trumpet of Apollo’s Fire (Cleveland), Portland Baroque Orchestra (Portland, Ore.), Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, Opera Lafayette (Washington), Bach Collegium San Diego, Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra and Tempesta di Mare in Philadelphia.”
Whitley-Bauguess’ work with dance partner Thomas Baird, who is also a former member of the New York Baroque Dance Company, has taken her to such places as Tokyo, Vancouver and New York.
For more than 20 years, Bauguess and Whitley-Bauguess lived in New Bern. Whitley-Bauguess’ job as a North Carolina Visiting Artist at Craven Community College took them there in 1989. They chose to stay, and from 1991 to 2001, she owned and operated a dance school there called Down East Dance.
In 2003, Bauguess opened up The Baroque Trumpet Shop. As far as he knows, it is the first shop to cater exclusively to early-brass players, and the business has grown over the years, serving customers in Germany, the United Kingdom, Austria, Israel and Japan. “The Baroque Trumpet Shop has annual sales of around $200,000,” Bauguess said.
Whitley-Bauguess also has a business with an international reach. “BaroqueDance.com sells Baroque dance educational products worldwide,” she said.
Every other summer, Bauguess comes to Winston-Salem for the biannual Magnolia Baroque Festival. Because he and his wife wanted to be closer to family and to the mountains, they started looking for property in the western part of the state. When a cabin on five acres became available in the North Wilkesboro area last year, they bought it, and now base their businesses there.
Over the years, Whitley-Bauguess has seen how UNCSA alumni have contributed to the state by performing, teaching, forming community groups, bringing other artists into the state, serving as arts ambassadors outside the state, and contributing to the state’s economic well-being. In North Carolina is a good place for artists to be based, she asserts.
"Organizing arts activities in North Carolina was much more pleasant and affordable for us here in the state than in locations such as New York City or Chicago or San Francisco,” she said. “More grants seemed to be available for smaller groups/artists, perhaps due to the smaller playing field.... We have been able to continue our careers out-of-state/country, organize and participate in performances and projects in-state, teach local students, and have a great quality of life in North Carolina."
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts brought Joshua Morgan to North Carolina. The bracing creative atmosphere he found in the state led him to make it a home for his artistic endeavors.
A 2009 graduate of the school, Morgan is the co-artistic director of No Rules Theatre Company, which he formed with fellow School of the Arts graduates Brian Sutow and Anne S. Kohn. Morgan, who was born in England and grew up in Los Angeles and New York, was unfamiliar with UNCSA when he began the process of searching for the right arts school. A last-minute opportunity to audition for UNCSA led to his admission to the school in 2005. Although he was also accepted at a number of conservatories across the country, he thought the School of the Arts would provide the most rewarding experience. What he found in North Carolina was both fresh and exciting.
“North Carolina is a very special state,” Morgan said. “My experience in Winston-Salem specifically has really been invigorating....The Winston-Salem community has been so embracing of the arts.”
While at the School of the Arts, Morgan, Sutow and Kohn joined forces because of their desire to create work outside the school in addition to their work within the school’s demanding curriculum. They put on productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch first at The Garage in Winston-Salem and then at The Warehouse in Washington. Their success in both cities led them to establish No Rules Theatre Company - and to base it in both cities. In Winston-Salem, it has made the Hanesbrands Theatre its artistic home. Since Hanesbrands opened in the fall of 2010, No Rules has put on two productions there - You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Touch.
No Rules’ double home has expanded the audience in both cities.
“We already have people who are driving from North Carolina to Washington and vice-versa,” he said.
Morgan envisions the company becoming a draw for people throughout North Carolina.
In addition to the nonprofit theater company, Morgan, Sutow and Kohn have established a for-profit company - No Rules Productions - that produces films and online productions, such as The Adventures of the Open Dream Ensemble, a Web adventure for young people. At the request of The Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, they’re working on a Web series about the School of the Arts' upcoming production of Oklahoma!
Morgan’s work has brought artists from Washington and elsewhere to the state. They join him in seeing the state as a place rich in possibility. “There are opportunities,” Morgan said. “We can create there. It’s not oversaturated.”
Morgan has also studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and The Artist’s Crossing in New York. His performance credits include The Trojan Women, Godspell, Burn This, Comedy of Errors, Children of Eden, Othello and Les Miserables. He has appeared in independent movies, and his musical play Definition of a Housewife had a workshop production at Columbia University. In March, he will star in a production of The Chosen at Arena Stage in Washington.
Working in Washington, New York and elsewhere, he has found that School of the Arts has a strong national reputation. “If you say you’re from the School of the Arts, you are automatically given some level of respect,” he said. “The name itself is doing some really big things.”
Kirstie Tice Spadie
Through her work with the North Carolina Dance Institute in Raleigh, Kirstie Tice Spadie has enriched the lives of thousands of North Carolinians.
"I have had the incredible opportunity to teach thousands of children, teens and adults at North Carolina Dance Institute,” said Spadie, who founded the institute with her husband in 2001. “I approach every class with the knowledge that I gained at UNCSA (the University of North Carolina School of the Arts) and strive to share that education with my students. Inspire young children with excellence and they will have high expectations of themselves in the dance classroom and in life."
While studying contemporary dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts from 1987 to 1991, Spadie had the good fortune to be coached by Agnes de Mille as the lead cowgirl in Rodeo. After graduating with honors that included the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence, Spadie performed nationally and internationally with such musicals as Cats. Her work with West Side Story took her to France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Scotland. She has performed in the Miss America Pageant and in national television commercials.
When choosing a home for the dance institute, Spadie, who grew up in New Orleans, picked Raleigh.
“I have always loved North Carolina and made Raleigh my home after my professional career,” she said.
Spadie has done choreography for the North Carolina Children’s Dance Festival and the Carolina Arts Festival, and, in 2003, the Dance Association for North Carolina Educators named her Community Dance Educator of the Year. In 2007, she worked closely with Chancellor John Mauceri on the School of the Arts’ 50th anniversary production of West Side Story, and, in 2010, he invited her to become an honorary member of UNCSA’s board of trustees. In making the announcement, Mauceri said, “Kirstie Spadie is a wonderful example of how our graduates give back to the community.”
In her role as an honorary trustee, she is helping with the search for a new dean for the School of Dance.
“Most importantly, I will continue to advocate for North Carolina students to audition for UNCSA,” she said. “It is the very best school in America for artistic dance training.”
Working in the state, she has come to appreciate how, as teachers in public and private schools, alumni of the School of the Arts make a major contribution to the state’s artistic community. "I am always amazed at the connection of the UNCSA alumni in our community,” she said.
Dance education also contributes both to the state’s economy and to the health of North Carolina’s children, she said. “There are hundreds of dance studios in neighborhoods all throughout North Carolina serving thousands of children. North Carolina parents want their children to be engaged in a physical activity that develops grace, strength and discipline.”
After growing up in Kentucky, violinist Emily Chatham found her musical home in North Carolina. Chatham, the founder of the Carolina Chamber Players, is now in her 26th season playing with the Charlotte Symphony.
"I always knew from the time I was a kid I wanted to play with orchestras," she said. "I was not one of those people who was a frustrated would-be soloist."
Chatham grew up in a town outside Louisville, where she went to take violin lessons. She had heard good things about what was then the North Carolina School of the Arts (now University of North Carolina School of the Arts) and, when she didn't find what she wanted at other colleges, she enrolled in the School of Music. Studying with the late Elaine Richey and others, she found the nourishing environment she had been looking for.
"I really loved it," she said.
She also appreciated such enriching experiences as traveling with other students to Europe, thanks to benefactors Mary Semans and her late husband, Dr. James Semans, and performing in such countries as Switzerland and Germany.
After graduating in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in violin, Chatham stuck around Winston-Salem for a couple of years. During that time, she served as the assistant concertmaster for the Winston-Salem Symphony. Once she began playing with the Charlotte Symphony, she knew she had found a musical home. "People are so nice in this orchestra," she said.
Carolina Chamber Players, which Chatham founded in 1985, grew out of her desire to play chamber music as well. Over the years, the group evolved into a quartet. Carolina Chamber Players has given formal recitals in Charlotte and surrounding areas, and has played for numerous receptions, weddings and private events. Their clients have included the Mint Museum to the Charlotte Bobcats. They are a favorite at various country clubs where the quartet has performed for such visiting dignitaries as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Margaret Thatcher.
Seven or eight years ago, Chatham decided it was time to explore a long-standing interest in Baroque music. She studied with Gesa Kordes, who was then at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and has participated in the Vancouver Early Music Programme, the Amherst Early Music Festival, the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin College and the Longy International Baroque Institute in Boston.
Chatham plays with other School of the Arts alumni and knows other alumni throughout the state as wonderful performers and teachers. In her experience, she and other alumni help get the word out that the School of the Arts is a place to get an excellent education.
"I feel very grateful that I put bread on the table doing what I was trained to do and wanted to do," she said. "That's something that I am grateful for on a daily basis."
Mark Dendy’s mother was less than enthusiastic about the possibility of her son going to a performing-arts conservatory, and, when his acceptances from such schools as Juilliard and what was then the North Carolina School of the Arts arrived, she stashed them with the candy she was also hiding from her children.
Searching for candy one day, Dendy’s younger sister came upon the letters and gave them to Dendy. When he opened the envelopes, Dendy discovered that the acceptance dates had all come and gone. When he called the School of the Arts, though, they said he was still welcome to come.
When the day came to head off to school, Dendy packed his belongings in a Hefty bag and took the bus from his home in Weaverville to Winston-Salem. There, he found a modern-dance program that changed his life. Since graduating from the School of Dance in 1983, Dendy, whose Dendy Dancetheater is based in New York, has had a remarkable career. In addition to teaching and performing throughout the United States, he has performed in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, England, France and Korea. He has received an Obie award for The Wild Party, a Bessie award for sustained achievement in the arts and four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Throughout his career, Dendy, who has described himself as a “North Carolina boy,” has made it a point to enrich the cultural life of North Carolina by returning to the School of the Arts to work with students and to teach and perform throughout the state.
“It’s my home,” Dendy said. “I would rather work in North Carolina than any place in the world.”
His dance play Dream Analysis features a protagonist from North Carolina. Dendy has taught at Duke University, Meredith College and other educational institutions in the state. He regularly participates in the annual American Dance Festival in Durham, and, in 2010, he choreographed a series of site-specific dances for the N.C. Museum of Art that 75 School of the Arts dance students performed to celebrate the opening of the new facility in Raleigh.
In retrospect, Dendy is grateful that those secreted acceptance letters led to him going to the School of the Arts rather than a school in New York. In Winston-Salem, he believes he received an education in modern dance that was equal to or surpassed what he would have received in New York. And the city provided a quieter atmosphere - Dendy worked down the hill from the school, washing dishes at Salem Tavern in Old Salem - than he would have found in New York.
“I would have been lost in New York for my four years of college,” he said. “There (Winston-Salem) was a place where I could concentrate. It was a perfect fit....I try to send people to that school whenever I see the talent.”
Dendy said that he is thankful for what the vision of Terry Sanford, the governor who put together a team of creative people to establish the school in the early 1960s, has done for him.
“If I had been in Weaverville, Alabama, this wouldn’t have happened,” Dendy said. “It has been so important to my life, and I will be forever grateful."
“Alumni Who Give Back” Series by Kim Underwood