Western professor, students compose music for UNC awards

A new musical collaboration between two Western Carolina University graduate students and their professor will be premiered later this month, providing the aural backdrop as the University of North Carolina system presents one of its top academic honors.

UNC-TV, North Carolina’s statewide public television network, commissioned the team of WCU composers to produce music that will be part of the presentation of the O. Max Gardner Award, the highest faculty honor bestowed by the UNC Board of Governors.

Bruce Frazier, a two-time Emmy Award-winner who holds Western’s Belk Distinguished Professorship of Commercial and Electronic Music, and two graduate students in music technology – Dan Gonko of Sterling Heights, Mich., and Rob Johnson of Greenville, S.C. – have been working for several months on the project.

“We are collaborating as a team to compose music that will underscore the video of the awards program,” said Frazier. “The themes in the music highlight the moods and feeling represented in the video and will be synchronized with the images.”

The finished piece will be debuted during an awards luncheon Friday, May 12, hosted by the UNC Board of Governors. It will then be broadcast as part of UNC-TV’s coverage of the O. Max Gardner Award on Monday, May 15, during the program “North Carolina Now,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. weeknights.

“UNC-TV is always looking for ways to partner with the UNC campuses,” said Shannon Vickery, UNC-TV executive producer. “I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting with Bruce Frazier and other members of Western Carolina’s broadcast media department on a previous campus visit. After touring the facilities and talking with Bruce about the capabilities of his music composition students, we decided to try to find a way to work together on a project. The O. Max Gardner Award piece has been a great opportunity to try the partnership.”

Although UNC-TV has worked with UNC campuses on a variety of projects to take advantage of the creativity of faculty and students, this production marks the first time that the “North Carolina Now” program has collaborated with a UNC institution on the creation of a new musical composition, Vickery said.

Frazier and his students are working on the project in the sound recording and editing studios located in the Center for Applied Technology, which features state-of-the art industry-standard equipment.

In addition to his Emmy recognitions for music composition and sound mixing during his 20-year career in Hollywood, Frazier was the orchestra conductor for many motion picture and episodic TV programs, including “JAG” and “Quantum Leap.” He began his conducting career in 1977 with recording artist Loretta Lynn.

For more information about WCU’s program in commercial and electronic music, or any other of its academic programs in music, call the music department at (828) 227-7242 or visit http://music.wcu.edu/.