An enduring partnership between two of Western North Carolina’s most venerable institutions – Brevard College and the Brevard Music Center – shines as bright as ever with the Fall 2020 semester now underway. The two organizations are working together to provide creative solutions for practical needs, along with avenues for the Fine Arts, despite the challenges faced during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are extremely thankful for our ongoing partnership with the Brevard Music Center,” said Dr. David C. Joyce, President of Brevard College. “BMC has helped us tremendously in providing our students with a well-rounded educational experience in the safest possible environment.”
“Brevard Music Center has a beautiful 183 acres campus with over 154 buildings”, said Mark Weinstein, President and CEO of Brevard Music Center. “We are glad that we are in a position to share it with Brevard College in a time of need.”
In anticipation of the Fall 2020 semester and the largest incoming class in Brevard College’s history, Brevard College was forced to reimagine its student housing plans. BC aimed to spread out its students and create a cohort living system to help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. The new plans required more student living spaces beyond the current student housing on the college campus. The Brevard Music Center stepped up to provide the additional needed housing by allowing BC students to reside in the newly built dormitories on the idyllic BMC campus. Brevard Music Center is not charging Brevard College for these facilities.
“Without hesitation, the Brevard Music Center agreed to allow us to use their residence halls which allowed us to spread out residential students and create a safer environment,” said Dr. Debbie D’Anna, Vice President of Student Success and Chair of Brevard College’s COVID-19 Safety Task Force. “I cannot thank everyone at BMC enough for their willingness to partner with Brevard College for housing which is only one example of the great partnership between BMC and BC. We are very thankful for the Brevard Music Center.”
With the establishment of COVID-19 safety protocols for students, faculty and staff, Brevard College also faced the challenge of finding adequate venues for its Fine Arts division. BC offers its Fine Arts students an experiential education in the majors of Art, Music, Music Education and Theatre.
Brevard Music Center is also assisting the college with additional locations beyond the Brevard College campus for student learning and performances. Music ensembles, private lessons for voice and woodwinds, and theatre rehearsals will take place at the Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium and Thomas Hall on the BMC campus. Again, there is no cost to Brevard College to use these Brevard Music Center campus facilities.
“We are so grateful to the BMC for opening their spaces to us this fall,” says Brevard College Fine Arts Division Chair Dr. Kathryn Gresham. “Because of their generosity, we are able to provide an ensemble experience and in-person lessons to our students during COVID-19, something that most of our colleagues around the country can’t begin to consider.”
The open air spaces at the Brevard Music Center greatly reduce the risk of transmission during singing, acting, and wind playing, all of which produce high levels of aerosol output. BC’s Fine Arts faculty are keeping abreast of current research on aerosolization and risk mitigation. Masks, bell covers, extremely wide physical distancing (at least 12 feet between participants) and careful placement between fans and the outside walls are some of the steps being taken to further reduce risk. Brevard College Music and Theatre majors will also be tested regularly for the COVID-19 virus. This testing is also being provided free by the Brevard Music Center, along with other free COVID -19 tTesting for all students, faculty and staff of Brevard College. In early July, the Brevard Music Center began free Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing for the Transylvania County community, and they have now extended that service to everyone at Brevard College.
In addition to musical instruction and theatre rehearsals, BMC is hosting the college’s live performance of Little Shop of Horrors at the Drive-In at the Brevard Music Center’s Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium main parking lot.
A key part of the partnership between Brevard College and the Brevard Music Center has been the ongoing collaborations between the talent at each institution.
One example is Andrea Boccanfuso, Assistant Professor of Theatre and the Coordinator of the Theatre major at Brevard College. Boccanfuso has been working annually at the Brevard Music Center Summer Institute and Festival since 1998. Boccanfuso relocated full-time from New York City to Brevard in 2013 to begin teaching at Brevard College and became a shared entity between BC and BMC with a focus on the Design & Technology aspects of the Theatre major.
Over the last seven years, more than 25 Brevard College Theatre students have been hired to work on the BMC production staff with Boccanfuso. BC students have also interned or worked at the BMC’s Box Office, Marketing, Operations, Parking, Facilities, and Development departments as well as the Brevard Music Center’s Janiec Opera Company which normally utilizes Brevard College’s Porter Center.
Currently, BC staff members Logan Taylor and Kurt Davis work at the BMC, while BC faculty members Dr. David Gresham and Dr. Vance Reese also work at the Music Center’s summer festival. Moreover, Brevard Music Center staff and faculty members, including Dilshad Posnock, Jason Posnock, and Jenny Kozoroz, routinely teach at the college’s Music department.