Belchers to present concert Feb. 19

Jan 22, 2013
Photo by: Donated photo David O. Belcher and Susan Brummell Belcher

Western Carolina University’s first couple will give a concert of classical music and songs from stage and screen at the Feb. 19 Junaluskans dinner meeting, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Terrace Hotel dining room, Lake Junaluska.

David O. Belcher, who became WCU chancellor last year, is a classically-trained concert pianist and Susan Brummell Belcher is a professional opera singer and vocal teacher.

David Belcher has appeared throughout the U. S. as recitalist and chamber musician. He holds degrees from Furman University, the University of Michigan, and the Eastman School of Music. In 1981, he was awarded a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellowship to study in Vienna, Austria. While a student at Eastman, he held a one-year appointment to the school’s piano faculty and was named the recipient of the Jerald C. Graue Memorial Scholarship for excellence in musicological research. Belcher holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School.

For several years, Belcher was a member of Missouri State University’s resident Hawthorne Trio, an ensemble with which he recorded the compact disc world premiere recording of the Piano Trio in D Minor (1991) by Stephen Dankner. The Arizona Daily Star, reviewing a performance by this ensemble in Tucson, said of him that he “had all the requisite taste and technique of a fine chamber musician.”

Prior to his arrival at WCU, he served for eight years as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and more than nine years as dean of Missouri State University’s College of Arts and Letters. While at Missouri State, he served as the founding director of the Missouri Fine Arts Academy, a three-week, intensive program of study for some of Missouri’s most talented high school arts students.

Active in local civic life, Belcher is a member of the board of directors of the N. C. Arboretum, the governing board of the MAHEC Center for Healthy Aging, and the board of trustees of Accademia dell’Arte. He is a past chair of the Little Rock (Arkansas) Arts and Culture Commission and has served as president of the boards of directors of the Springfield (Missouri) Regional Opera and the Springfield Area Arts Council. He is a past member of the boards of directors or steering committees of the National Conference of Governor’s Schools, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Missouri Citizens for the Arts, the Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, and the Urban Districts Alliance. He was a member of the 1997 Class of Leadership Missouri and the 1999 recipient of the Ozzie Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the arts in Springfield, Missouri.

Since moving to Cullowhee in 2011, Susan Belcher has appeared as soprano soloist with the Asheville Choral Society in John Rutter’s Mass of the Children. In October she made her debut with Haywood Arts Regional Theatre (HART) in its production of Light in the Piazza. She is a member of the WCU Friends of the Arts Advancement Council and is active in the WCU Alumni Association Cullowhee Lily Initiative.

Her artistic career spans opera, music theatre, straight theatre, stage directing, and opera administration.  Belcher’s musical and straight theatre performances have allowed her to be levitated by magician David Copperfield (Chicago, The Magic Man), romanced by actor John Goodman (Luisa, The Fantastiks) and to play “straight man” to the late Eve Arden (Cory, Barefoot in the Park).

Other credits include the Chicago Lyric Opera, Angel Zephon, Paradise Lost (world premiere); Opera Company of Philadelphia, Clorinda, La Cenerentola; Palm Springs Opera, Norina, Don Pasquale; Chicago Opera Theatre, Adele, Die Fledermaus and Papagena, The Magic Flute. Master classes: Luciano Pavarotti and Jon Vickers. Recording: Gregg Smith Singers. Soloist: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Memorial Day (world premiere) and Countess Charlotte, A Little Night Music; Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Hair Hag, Les Miserables; Arkansas Chamber Singers, Missa brevis and Paukenmess.

She has directed numerous opera productions for young audiences, including Hansel and Gretel, The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, Red Riding Hood, and The Magic Flute.  She served as both education director and executive director of the Springfield (Missouri) Regional Opera, where she created the popular Café des Artistes, in which opera in English was performed by young artists in a bistro setting.

Belcher gained her professional opera training as a young artist with the Chicago Lyric Opera Center for American Artists in Chicago. She earned her master of music in vocal performance from Northwestern University and her bachelor of science in education in speech and theatre from Missouri State University. Prior to coming to North Carolina, she taught voice on the adjunct faculty of Missouri State University and of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

The Junaluskans dinner tickets are available at the Bethea Welcome Center at Lake Junaluska Assembly. Dinner tickets must be purchased by noon Monday, Feb. 18. For additional information contact Marie Metcalf at 454-9474, or email metcalfmarie@bellsouth.net.

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