At the N.C. School of the Arts, life recently has reflected both the joy and tragedy that the arts can help us comprehend.
A performing arts conservatory that combines a high school and undergraduate and post-graduate programs, the school on May 12 welcomed a new chancellor.
An accomplished conductor, music director and educator, John Mauceri now has been handed the baton at the school, a campus of the University of North Carolina system, and promises to continue building it into one of the premier conservatories in the U.S.
But only four days earlier, on the eve of the premiere of a production by its A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute, the school lost one of its most promising opera students in a tragic auto accident.
Joshua Hudson, a graduating college senior who was to perform the lead role in Orpheus in the Underworld, died in an accident after a dress rehearsal.
The school cancelled all performances that had been scheduled for Winston Salem and Raleigh.
The Opera Institute, a partnership of the School of the Arts and the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh, embodies the legacy of A.J. Fletcher, who founded the Grass Roots Opera in 1948.
Mr. Fletcher’s dream was to give aspiring opera singers a place to train, performing in English for free in our public schools, and so give school children a chance to experience the joy of opera.
I experienced that joy at a dress rehearsal the evening before Josh was killed.
It was a wonderful, creative performance that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I am sorry so few people had the opportunity to see this performance.
Josh, who grew up in Dunn, N.C., had been at the School of the Arts since high school and was to graduate from the undergraduate program a few weeks later.
He was a very talented young man who will be missed by many.
But the joy he gave to those who saw him perform lives on at the School of the Arts.
Now, under the leadership of John Mauceri, the school will continue to grow and prepare young artists, sustaining A.J. Fletcher’s dream of enriching life through the arts.
Barbara Goodmon is president of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.