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Oct. 24, 2011/For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Marla Carpenter, 336-770-3337, carpem@uncsa.edu



Current Chancellor John Mauceri Will Present Award

WINSTON-SALEM – Composer and Durham resident Robert Ward, who served as President (and later, Chancellor) of the then-North Carolina School of the Arts from 1967-74, will receive one of four National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Opera Honors on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Current University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) Chancellor John Mauceri will present the award to Ward during an awards ceremony and concert at the Sidney Harman Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. 

The event, which kicks off National Opera Week (Oct. 28-Nov. 6), will include performances by tenor Lawrence Brownlee and mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, video tributes to the honorees, and an onstage conversation moderated by a guest host. It will be webcast live at http://www.arts.gov.

“Robert Ward’s contributions to the arts go way beyond the awards he has appropriately received and the music he has left to all of us,” said Chancellor Mauceri. “More than anyone, Robert Ward took the great idea of a publicly funded, stand-alone arts university and made it a reality, forging essential relationships and creating the mechanisms by which UNCSA, and schools that have emulated UNCSA, function.

“His decade of service to a great school and the inspiration it has engendered are powerful reminders of how a great artist serves the public in many ways and leaves a lasting gift to society,” Mauceri concluded.

Robert Ward
Photo by Robert Kolt

Robert Ward

The NEA Opera Honors is the nation’s highest award in opera, recognizing outstanding artists for their lifetime achievements and contributions to opera in America. Recipients are nominated by the public and are chosen by an NEA-convened panel of opera experts. Past NEA Opera honorees include John Adams, Carlisle Floyd, Marilyn Horne, James Levine, and Leontyne Price.

Being honored along with Ward are stage designer John Conklin of Boston, general director Speight Jenkins of Seattle, and mezzo-soprano Risë Stevens of New York City. The honorees were announced in June by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. Each will receive a one-time award of $25,000.

The 2011 NEA Opera Honors are presented in partnership with Opera America.

Robert Ward, composer, conductor, administrator, educator, and publishing executive, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sept. 13, 1917.  He studied theory, orchestration, and piano as a youth and began composing in high school where his early musical influences include Debussy, Ravel, Hindemith, Stravinsky, and jazz. Ward studied composition with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson at the Eastman School of Music from 1935 through 1939. He then studied composition with Frederick Jacobi and conducting with Albert Stoessel and Edgar Schenkman at The Juilliard School from 1939 through 1941. Additional studies in composition occurred with Aaron Copland at the Tanglewood Music Festival in 1940 before entering the military as a bandleader in the US Army from 1942 through 1946. While serving in the Pacific theater of operations, Ward met Mary Benedict, his wife of 62 years with whom he had five children. After the war he returned to The Juilliard School and received his Artist Certificate in 1946. Ward taught at Juilliard from 1947 to 1956 where he also headed its development office, and at Columbia University from 1946 to 1958. He received three Guggenheim Fellowships (1950, 1951, 1966), and was director of the Third Street Music Settlement from 1952 to 1955. The composer of music in a wide variety of musical genres, Ward’s most enduring and well-known work, The Crucible, (1961) won the Pulitzer Prize for Music and the New York Music Critics’ Circle Citation Award in 1962 and was composed during his tenure as Executive Vice President/Managing Editor of Galaxy Music Corporation, a position he held from 1956 to 1966. Ward served on numerous boards of directors, and was a member of various organizations such as the American Symphony Orchestra League, the National Opera Institute, the Rockefeller Fund for Music, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. Ward was president of the then-North Carolina School of the Arts from 1967 to 1974 and was the Mary Duke Biddle Professor of Music at Duke University from 1979 to 1989. His achievements in composition have garnered four honorary doctorates: from the Peabody Conservatory, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Duke University, and North Carolina State University. To date, Ward’s catalog of compositions includes eight operas, seven symphonies, three concertos, numerous shorter works for orchestra, music for wind ensemble, compositions for a variety of instrumental chamber groups, two cantatas, various genres for vocal ensembles, and songs for solo voice with accompaniment, among others. His eclectic compositional methods facilitate musical comprehension and reflect various styles used throughout the history of Western art music and, especially in his vocal works, Ward derives both melodic and rhythmic constructions by adapting the syntactic properties of the texts. In this way he achieves a synthesis or internal union of the various expressive elements, thus creating a singular artistic voice within a unified musical structure. Ward’s music is consciously nationalistic and expresses concerns for social and political issues and his interpretation of American idealism.

John Mauceri is an internationally acclaimed conductor and Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra who was named Chancellor of UNCSA in 2006. His distinguished and extraordinary career has taken him not only to more than 25 of the world’s greatest opera companies and more than 50 symphony orchestras, but also to the musical stages of Broadway and Hollywood, as well as the most prestigious halls of academia. Maestro Mauceri has served as music director of four opera companies: Washington (National), Scottish (Glasgow), the Teatro Regio (Turin, Italy), and Pittsburgh. He is the first American to have held the post of music director of an opera house in either Great Britain or Italy. He was the first music director of the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall after its founding director, Leopold Stokowski, with whom he studied. He was Consultant for Music Theater at Washington’s Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for more than a decade, and, for 15 years, he served on the faculty of Yale University. For 18 years, Mauceri worked closely with Leonard Bernstein and conducted many of the composer’s premieres at Bernstein’s request. On Broadway, he was co-producer of On Your Toes, and served as musical supervisor for Hal Prince’s production of Candide as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance. He also conducted the orchestra for the film version of Evita. Among his many awards and honors are a Tony, Grammy, Billboard, Olivier, and two Emmys. Last year, his recording of Erich Korngold’s Between Two Worlds was selected by Gramophone magazine as one of the 250 Greatest Recordings of All Time. In April, Gramophone named two of his recordings with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra among the “10 great studio re-creations” of classic movie soundtracks. Chancellor Mauceri holds the lifetime title of Founding Director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, which was created for him in 1991 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and with whom he led over 300 concerts to a total audience of over 4 million people. He has written for and appeared on radio and television and has delivered keynote speeches and papers for major artistic and educational institutions, such as Harvard University, the American Academy in Berlin, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the American Musicological Society, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He recently published articles for Cambridge University Press and Gramophone magazine.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from high school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.