UNCSA launches monthly podcast series, “Story Behind the Sound”

UNCSA has launched a monthly podcast series called “Story Behind the Sound,” which explores the role sound plays in the arts and the stories of the artists behind it. Listeners can delve into the worlds of UNCSA alumni, faculty and students to discover their unique relationship with sound and how it shapes their craft. Audio stories will be paired with an article on the UNCSA website. “The Story Behind the Sound” is available for streaming through major platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.

The premiere episode is available today and features School of Music alumnus Robert Franz, the new music director of the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra.

Robert Franz / Photo: Mike Kovaliv

Robert Franz / Photo: Mike Kovaliv

“I am an avid podcast listener, so I’m especially excited we’re embracing this medium as a platform for highlighting the remarkable achievements of the UNCSA community,” said Saxton Rose, dean of the School of Music. “This is a chance to delve into the astonishing narratives that lie at the heart of the captivating sounds they produce. It is particularly fitting to launch with Robert Franz, an accomplished conductor and cherished alumnus. I hope audiences will get a better understanding of the community we have at UNCSA through these conversations and stories.”

In the inaugural episode, Franz also touches on the impact of one of his first projects postgraduation on active listening, which integrated classical music into elementary school curriculum and resulted in raised standardized test scores. “At the core of who we are is sound and if we can teach young ears how to actively listen, those skills can then be transferred to every other aspect of their lives and help develop those skills,” Franz said. 

He also discusses his time as an undergraduate and graduate student in the School of Music at UNCSA. “I felt like I finally came to a place where I was around people who thought like I did, but I was also in a place where I felt like I could learn so much,” Franz said.

During the episode Franz also offers insight on how he went from being one of the few student oboe players in the orchestra to becoming a conductor. “In my junior year I took a conducting class … and that’s where I discovered that that was my passion,” he said. “From that moment on, I was hooked. I knew that, for me, being a conductor was really the essence of me.”

The next “Story Behind the Sound” episode will focus on the dynamic between a live orchestra and dancers in “The Nutcracker,” through the lens of UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole, who will be conducting the upcoming performances, and School of Dance faculty member Ilya Kozadayev, who choreographed it.

UNCSA offers a variety of streaming digital content including the recently released “Windows” from UNCSA Media, which features works by works by Valerie Coleman, Jessie Montgomery, Kamala Sankaram and Reena Esmail, performed by UNCSA School of Music faculty artists in an eclectic program that binds together different genres, aesthetics, instrumentation and compositional styles.

Also available for listeners is the bi-weekly Art Restart podcast and salon series in which the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA explores how creatives around the world are reinventing their fields and building a new landscape for the arts. Recent podcast guests include actor and educator Charles Andrew Gardner; screenwriter, playwright and essayist Dorothy Fortenberry; jazz musician Terry Lyne Carrington and more. Enjoy listening on AppleSpotify or your listening platform of choice. Captioned interviews are available on YouTube

About Robert Franz

Acclaimed conductor Robert Franz is music director of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra (WSO) in Canada, artistic director of the Boise Baroque Orchestra (BBO) in Idaho, and last year served as resident guest conductor of the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra, of which he was named music director last spring. His career has been marked by a commitment to creating alliances and building bridges in the communities he serves, and a dedication to music education.

Familiar from appearances with the Winston-Salem Symphony, Franz has been called “a favorite of local audiences and musicians alike” by CVNC, the classical music website. Of his October performance of the Beethoven Sixth Symphony with the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra, CVNC wrote: “This is one of Franz's strengths – allaying the form to the content, or to state it backwards, the emotional content of the music never overcomes the structure but if anything, it is reinforced by the structural strength.”

Franz is in increasing demand as a guest conductor, having collaborated with the Cleveland Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, North Carolina Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Italy’s Orchestra da Camera Fiorentinas. He has performed with a wide array of artists, including James Galway, Joshua Bell, Rachel Barton Pine, Chris Botti, Idina Menzel and Chris Hadfield, as well as composers such as John Harbison, Jennifer Higdon and Jordan Pal.

Franz received his Master of Music in conducting in 1992 and his Bachelor of Music in oboe performance in 1990, both from UNCSA.

Contact Media Relations(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)

Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.

October 31, 2023