Symphony Director Picked As UNC's Arts 'Czar'

Emil J. Kang, former president and executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, has been chosen as the University’s first executive director of the arts.
The position was created to provide oversight of performing arts programs that have both campus and regional audiences, to coordinate scheduling at several venues to guide the University in planning and articulating a comprehensive performing arts program, and to advocate for the performing arts on and off campus.

Kang will begin work Jan. 1, as Memorial Hall’s major renovation nears completion and as plans proceed to refurbish Gerrard Hall and the Playmakers Theatre. A concert hall in the planned new music building will be added to the mix.

Kang said he was attracted to Carolina by the enthusiasm for the arts and the promise of the capital improvements program.

The high-level position, created at the urging of Chancellor James Moeser, will report to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost.

Kang led the Detroit orchestra through the largest capital project in its history, a $125 million fund-raising campaign to restore and expand Orchestra Hall, including recruitment of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman as principal guest conductor. Kang managed a $30 million operating budget with more than 250 annual performances that drew 400,000 people.

He will work closely with the director of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union to coordinate union productions with other arts performances. He also will work with the College of Arts and Sciences and the chairs of the music, dramatic art and communication studies departments and the executive director of PlayMakers Repertory Co.

One of his first duties will be to plan events to celebrate the reopening of Memorial Hall.

Prior to his six years in Detroit, Kang was orchestra manager for the Seattle Symphony and was an orchestra management fellow for the American Symphony Orchestra League in Washington, D.C. A native of New York, he has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Rochester with a minor in art history.