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Dec. 6, 2013/For Immediate Release, high res. photo available

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



 Endowment is named for James Allbritten, artistic director of A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute

WINSTON-SALEM – Wade Weast, Dean of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), has announced the establishment of James Allbritten Distinguished Visiting Artist Professorship. The $500,000 endowment provides funding for guest artists in UNCSA’s A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute.

The endowment is named for James Allbritten, artistic director of Fletcher Opera, who has taught at UNCSA since 1993. It was endowed by the estate of Timothy Keith Cahill, Ms. Jacqueline Mars, and friends in the Winston-Salem community, with a matching grant from the Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund of the State of North Carolina.

“We are grateful to supporters who made this gift in honor of James Allbritten,” said Weast. “It is an indication of the community’s respect and admiration for his talent, dedication and hard work.”

James Allbritten                                     

Allbritten has been artistic director of the A. J. Fletcher Opera Institute since 2001. During his time at UNCSA, he has held positions as principal conductor for the UNCSA Cantata Singers and the UNCSA Symphony Orchestra. He recently was recognized by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts at UNCSA as a “Class Act,” an outstanding teacher who employs best practices in arts education. He received a UNCSA Excellence in Teaching Award for 2013. 

Allbritten said the gift will enrich opera performance for years to come. “Graduates of the Fletcher Opera Institute perform on the world’s stages. This endowment will allow us to bring in guest artists of the highest caliber, who will inspire new generations of talented performers,” he said. “I am honored to have my name associated with such a generous gesture.”

Established at UNCSA in 2000 by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation of Raleigh, the institute offers performance-based training at the graduate and post-graduate levels to institute fellows each year. Fellows and alumni of the institute have performed at Spoleto, the Princeton Festival, Chautauqua Opera, Aspen Music Festival and Glimmerglass Festival, and for Piedmont Opera, Opera Carolina, Santa Fe Opera, Dell’Arte Opera in New York, Michigan Opera Theatre and Nashville Opera, among many others.


About James Allbritten

Originally from Louisville, Ky., James Allbritten began his conducting studies at Indiana University under Jan Harrington, Robert Porco and Thomas Dunn.  While there, he also worked with Glyndborne Festival Opera conductor Bryan Balkwill and MET stage directors Hans Busch and James Lucas. 

He joined the faculty of the UNC School of the Arts in 1993, where his duties now include artistic director of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, as well as music director of the Cantata Singers and interim music director of the Symphony Orchestra.  Fletcher Opera highlights include Puccini’s La Rondine, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Donizetti’s Belisario.  Composer Kirke Mechem was so pleased with Allbritten’s reading of his Tartuffe that he asked him to lead the first act of his new opera Pride and Prejudice in a workshop premiere.  He also led the Southeastern premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town, of which the Fletcher Institute was co-commissioner. 

As artistic director and principal conductor for Piedmont Opera, he has led performances ranging from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro to Puccini’s Turandot to the opera house premiere of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza.  Of Piedmont Opera’s Un ballo in maschera, Opera News said, “The musical excellence for the entire evening was the work of the conductor, James Allbritten…His tempos were well chosen, attacks were precise, and the coordination and balance with the singers was exemplary.”

Last summer, Allbritten led the premiere of Ken Frazelle’s Triple Concerto for the Meadowmount School of Music.  He was also the music director for the Vocal Arts Festival for the Colorado College.  This December, he returns for a third year to conduct Handel’s Messiah for the Mozart Club.  In addition, he has led performances for Opera Theater of the Rockies, Opera Carolina, the Carolina Chamber Symphony and the Winston Salem Symphony.  Also an accomplished singer, he studied with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Giorgio Tozzi and Margaret Harshaw.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.