Top Names to Mark New Era at Renovated Memorial Hall

The lineup sounds like something for Carnegie Hall: Itzhak Perlman. Leonard Slatkin. Tony Bennett. Wynton Marsalis. Nanci Griffith.

That’s who’s coming to UNC’s newly renovated Memorial Hall, including the 2005-06 Carolina Performing Arts Series, “A Movement to Greatness.” Over the season, more than 700 artists will give more than 40 performances.

A Sept. 8 ribbon-cutting will celebrate Memorial’s re-opening after a two-year renovation costing nearly $18 million. On Sept. 9, singer Tony Bennett will give the hall’s first performance, “A Prelude to an Opening.”

A grand opening gala will take place on Sept. 10 with a concert titled “A Classical Opening” and featuring violinist Itzhak Perlman, violinist/violist Pinchas Zukerman and the North Carolina Symphony, led by Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra.

The new hall’s first week will continue with “Carolina Performs: A Student Performing Arts Celebration” on Sept. 11; and National Public Radio’s “Wait Wait . Don’t Tell Me” taped in Memorial, Sept. 15 and 16 and broadcast at later dates.

Subscriptions to all performances, packaged by genre, will go on sale at the Carolina Union Box Office on July 1, and event updates will be posted online. Subscribers also will have the opportunity to purchase single-event tickets beginning July 1. Others may buy single-event tickets beginning Aug. 29. Prices, to be announced later, will vary by event and seat location.

Tickets for the North Carolina Symphony performances in Memorial are on sale now and can be purchased by contacting the symphony box office at (919) 733-2750. Tickets for the Carolina Ballet performances in Memorial will be available to series subscribers on July 1 and for individual purchase on Aug. 29 from the Carolina Union box office at (919) 962-1449.

“We will present the very best from the full spectrum of the performing arts,” said Emil Kang, Carolina’s executive director for the arts. “The season will showcase internationally renowned recitalists and orchestras, dance companies, chamber ensembles, theater, and jazz, folk and world music performers.”

Kang came to UNC in January to lead performing arts programs in Memorial; encourage artistic collaboration, innovation and creativity among academic units; and showcase the breadth and quality of student and faculty arts programs by unifying the arts voice on campus through programming, marketing and dialogue.

Memorial helps anchor the new Arts Common, part of the campus master plan, which will encompass an area extending southward from Franklin Street, the university’s front door, to Playmakers Theatre, the oldest building on campus dedicated to the arts.

Memorial’s renovations include additions on the east and west ends, creating a larger lobby. The stage house on the back of the building has been replaced. Public funds, including those from the higher education bond referendum in 2001, and private donations to the Carolina First Campaign funded the renovation.

The new Memorial has a central heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, new lighting and sound systems and improved handicapped accessibility.

Refurbished chandeliers, fixtures and a Carolina Blue ceiling have transformed the auditorium, as has a new stage with wings.

“Memorial Hall, an important historical gathering place for our University, will express a grand sense of place,” Kang said. “A sense of being at Carolina, and nowhere else.”

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