UNCSA Professor Paul Sharpe named UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award winner

UNCSA Professor of Double Bass Paul Sharpe has been named recipient of a 2024 University of North Carolina (UNC) Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has been a member of the School of Music faculty since 2007 and currently serves as assistant dean for recruitment and enrollment.

Sharpe is one of 17 outstanding faculty members representing all 16 of North Carolina’s public universities and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics chosen to receive the awards. Recipients were nominated by special committees at each institution and selected by the Board of Governors Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs.

“These extraordinary faculty members have dedicated their lives to teaching and are committed to lifting up their students to become the next generation of leaders for North Carolina and the nation,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey. “We are grateful for their service and congratulate them on these awards.”

Paul Sharpe during Double Bass Day, 2022 / Photo: Evan Vorhis

Paul Sharpe during Double Bass Day, 2022 / Photo: Evan Vorhis

UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole said, “Paul Sharpe is the epitome of a great faculty member and role model for our students. His vast international experience performing and teaching and his exuberance for expanding the perception of a classical double bassist are to be admired. He clearly loves what he does and infuses his teaching with that reverence and passion for his craft, and UNCSA and its double bass students are indeed fortunate to have him.”

Each of the Excellence in Teaching Award winners will receive a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize and will be honored at each of their institutions at a future date. The awards were established by the Board of Governors in 1993 to highlight the importance of teaching and to recognize the extraordinary contributions of faculty members systemwide.

UNC System President Peter Hans wrote, “Teaching — instilling curiosity, feeding a thirst for knowledge, and creating lifelong learners — is the foundation of the University of North Carolina System. I am grateful for your passion, expertise and scholarship and join the Board of Governors in congratulating you on your achievement.”

Paul Sharpe works with a double bass student / Photo: Raunak Kapoor

Paul Sharpe works with a double bass student / Photo: Raunak Kapoor

About Paul Sharpe

Paul Sharpe, professor of double bass at UNCSA since 2007, is also active internationally both as an orchestral and chamber musician and as a soloist. He has performed and taught throughout the world: in Germany at Villa Musica and the International Chamber Music Academy of Southern Germany; the International Double Bass Encounter in Brazil; the Paris Conservatory; Poland’s World Bass Festival; and in Italy at the Orfeo Music Festival. In the United States, he has given master classes and performed recitals at many conservatories and universities, including the Cleveland Institute, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, University of North Texas, University of Denver and Shenandoah Conservatory.

As soloist, he has performed with the UNCSA Wind Ensemble, Winston-Salem Symphony, Boise Philharmonic, Anchorage Symphony, Orquestra de Camara Theatro Sao Pedro (Porto Alegre, Brazil), Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Orchestra, Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Chamber Orchestra and Aspen Young Artists Orchestra.

He greatly enjoys performing with the eclectic bass quartet Bad Boyz of Double Bass, and his work as a member of the unique cello-bass duo Low and Lower has pushed him from the traditional role of a classical double bassist into singing, acting, composing, arranging and more.

Alumni from his UNCSA double bass studio have recently won positions in the Philadelphia Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony, Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra in Japan, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and El Paso Symphony. In eight of the last nine years, a student or more of his UNCSA High School studio has been appointed to the National Youth Orchestra-USA or NYO2 orchestras, including three this year.

Paul Sharpe with a studen on Double Bass Day, 2022 / Photo: Evan Vorhis

Paul Sharpe with a student on Double Bass Day, 2022 / Photo: Evan Vorhis

Prior to joining the faculty at UNCSA, Sharpe was a tenured professor at Texas Tech University; adjunct faculty at University of North Texas; and an instructor at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, and the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City.

Sharpe holds a Bachelor of Music in performance from Northwestern University in Illinois and a Master of Arts in music from the University of Iowa. His principal teachers are Jeff Bradetich and Diana Gannett.

“Teaching has always been the source of my greatest fulfillment in life, and I treasure the teaching experience with greater passion now more than ever,” Sharpe said in his teaching philosophy. “My students’ indefatigable determination to develop as musicians throughout the pandemic was the thing that kept the entire studio focused on the positive…. Bass master class and lessons were an oasis from our world’s difficulties and a reminder that living a robust and vital life could be done despite pandemics and strife. Music has transcendent power.”

Sharpe’s colleagues, and current and former students, offered numerous statements praising his teaching. “Mr. Sharpe demonstrates expertise in his field by being the ultimate embodiment of the musician he wants his students to be,” one alumnus said. “He practices more than any of his students, he performs at least as much as them, and all while maintaining a healthy and balanced life as an educator and a father.”

A colleague said, “Professor Sharpe's students are very supportive and encouraging to each other. This is notable in their weekly studio class, as they offer thoughtful, constructive comments to their peers after each performance. It is also evident in their teamwork (as a double bass section) in UNCSA Symphony Orchestra concerts, as noted in Professor Sharpe's Instagram postings. This kind of unity among students is a reflection of the leadership and humanity of their teacher and mentor. Mr. Sharpe's students feel valued and proud to be part of the double bass studio here at UNCSA.”

Last month, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Patrick J. Sims announced that six permanent faculty members and one adjunct faculty member at UNCSA were named winners of the university’s Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2023-24. In addition to Sharpe, they include: Allison George, High School Academic Program; Michael Miller, School of Filmmaking; Maria Serkin, School of Music; Mikhail “Misha” Tchoupakov, School of Dance; Aaron Willey, High School Academic Program; and adjunct faculty member Kim Zubick, School of Filmmaking.

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March 20, 2024