WILSON, N.C. — “Downtown,” Barton College/Wilson Symphony Orchestra’s first concert of the 2013-2014 season, will be presented on Friday, Oct. 11, at 7:30 p.m. at the Edna Boykin Cultural Center, 108 Nash Street in Wilson. The concert will feature harp soloist Vonda Darr performing works by Ravel and Handel, and special guest Dr. Betty McCain, who will narrate the orchestra’s performance of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” Admission to this concert is free of charge, and the community is invited to attend.

The orchestra, conducted by Barton College music director Mark N. Peterson, will also perform Beethoven’s rousing “Egmont Overture.” “Bringing the orchestra to the Boykin Center in an exciting opportunity,” said Peterson. “We look forward to performing for the first time in this hometown landmark. The Arts Council of Wilson has been a tremendous help and support facilitating our concert here in this historic venue.”

“Peter and the Wolf” is one of those rare compositions, which was written for a children’s audience but has an equally strong appeal to adults. In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned to write a new musical symphony for children. The intent was to cultivate musical tastes in children from the first years of school. Intrigued by the invitation, Prokofiev completed “Peter and the Wolf” in just four days, and it has become an enduring classic. “This concert will put an eastern Carolina spin to this familiar masterpiece,” continued Peterson. “Betty McCain, Wilson’s own firebrand advocate for the arts, will narrate and bring her own special style and charm.”

McCain, one of the most recognized and most welcomed personalities hailing from the Tarheel State, has served North Carolina in a variety of roles. Her most prominent role was Secretary of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. She was elected to the North Carolina Board of Governors four times, was instrumental in the building of the North Carolina Museum of History, and served as chair of the Board of Trustees at UNC-TV and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Board of Visitors.

Among the many accolades McCain has received during her professional career are the John T. Caldwell Award for the Humanities, the North Carolina Award, and induction into the North Carolina Women’s Hall of Fame. She has also received the Distinguished Service Medal from the General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Carpathian Award given by N.C. Equity for significant contributions to women and families of North Carolina, the Morrison Award presented by the Roanoke Island Historical Association, the Distinguished Women of North Carolina Award for Public Service, the Most Powerful Women in the Triangle Award presented by Triangle Business Journal, a Doctor of Laws Degree, honoris causa, from Barton College, a Doctor of Letters Degree, honoris causa, by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

McCain holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts degree in Music from Colombia University. She holds honorary degrees from Barton College, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Greensboro, and Barton College.

Darr has been the principal harpist for the Augusta Symphony (GA) since 1993, and the Augusta Opera since 1998. She also performs with the North Carolina Symphony, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, the Hilton Head Symphony, the South Carolina Philharmonic, and the Barton College/Wilson Symphony Orchestra. Darr has been the principal harpist for the Symphony Orchestra Augusta in Georgia since 1993, and the Augusta Opera since 1998. She is a founding member of the Lyra Vivace Chamber Orchestra.

She began studying the harp at the age of six with Gladys Hubner in Minneapolis, Minn., and played with the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies through her childhood. Darr studied with Gretchen Van Hoesen in Pittsburgh, while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in harp performance from Geneva College. She has been a soloist with the Florence Symphony, the Augusta Symphony String Quartet, the University of South Carolina Chamber Orchestra, and the Georgia Southern University Orchestra. Darr appeared in the PBS Christmas special “Home for the Holidays” with opera singer Jessye Norman, recorded in 1998 in Augusta. She also has recorded two solo harp CDs, “Prayers Without Words” and “Hear the Angels.” She performs solo and chamber concerts throughout the Southeast and maintains a private harp teaching studio.

For additional information about this event or the concert season, please contact Laura Ashley Lamm at 252-399-6309 or email: lalamm@barton.edu.

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