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ECSU hosts N.C. Music Teachers with sessions, concert

100517MusicConference

Victoria Fischer, president-elect and conference chairwoman of the North Carolina Music Teachers Association, poses at the piano at the Fine Arts Center at Elizabeth City State University, Thursday. The association is holding its annual conference at ECSU this weekend.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, October 6, 2017

This year’s annual conference of the N.C. Music Teachers Association — highlighted by tonight’s concert featuring pianist Willis Delony and vibraphonist Jon Metzger — is being held at Elizabeth City State University, marking the first time in its 59-year history that the gathering has been hosted by an HBCU.

Victoria Fischer, chairwoman of the state conference and a music instructor at Elon University, said Thursday that the theme for this year’s conference might be termed “All That Jazz.” She explained that while classical music is the foundation for everything that is done in western music, “the embracing of different styles such as jazz and Gospel and blues is important to all of us.”

The emphasis on jazz and other improvisation-rich genres in this conference is reflected in session topics such as “Getting Started with Improvisation,” which will be held from 4-4:50 p.m., today and features guest artist Jon Metzger.

A complete schedule of conference sessions is posted on the conference page at the association’s website, ncmta.org.

Walter Swan, director of choral activities at ECSU, was a presenter at the state conference of NCMTA when it was held at Methodist University in Fayetteville three years ago. He and Fischer began discussing at that time the possibility of holding the conference in Elizabeth City.

Swan, who is the local chairman for the conference, and Fischer, the state chairwoman, have been planning this conference for more than a year.

The NCMTA is made up of independent music teachers who teach private lessons in a studio or home and instructors in music programs at colleges and universities across the state. ECSU is the first of the state’s HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) to host the NCMTA State Conference.

Swan said it’s a great opportunity local residents to learn more about music and to hear internationally acclaimed musicians for free at the 8 p.m. recital in the auditorium at the Mickey L. Burnim Fine Arts Center on the ECSU campus.

Pre-registration is requested for the conference, but Fischer said all lectures and recitals are open to the public and are free.

He said the association has taken advantage of this location in northeastern North Carolina by inviting music teachers from Virginia, and especially southeastern Virginia, to be part of the conference.

The conference offers music teachers opportunities to learn new teaching methods, to hear and learn new music — two pieces are being premiered during the conference — and to enjoy fellowship with others in the profession.

“It’s a chance to be with your colleagues to learn,” Fischer said. “It’s that shot in the arm that you need.”

As of Thursday morning there were about 80 conference participants pre-registered. Many walk-ins are expected today.

Swan stressed that residents are encouraged to attend conference sessions and especially tonight’s recital by Delony and Metzger. The university encourages connecting with the community through the arts, he said.

Fischer explained that while public school music teachers actually have a separate association, this year the conference has a liaison with that association and will be offering continuing education units for public school music teachers. At least a few K-12 music teachers are expected to attend this conference.

“We are interested in advancing the cause of music and the appreciation of music in our state on both the collegiate and the community level,” Fischer said.

Swan said the opening dinner and board meeting for the state association was held Thursday evening at the home of Mayor Joe Peel and his wife Carolyn, a well-known visual artist in the community.

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