By Tris Lashea ‘22
Imagine the sounds of a piano – of the caliber you might hear at Carnegie Hall – coming from the recital rooms in UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Hall. That’s the opportunity that students in middle school to high school have this summer as part of UNC Asheville’s Summer Piano Camp. With new funding from Walnut Cove Members Association (WCMA), the camp is now able to provide more amazing opportunities to local young musicians. The WCMA has donated $8,600 to the UNC Asheville to support the piano camp for the Asheville community, and for a leadership class for UNC Asheville students.
The UNC Asheville Summer Piano Camp is a one-week, non-resident day camp for local middle and high school students at intermediate and advanced levels of the piano. They’ll work to achieve a deeper love and appreciation for music through comprehensive instruction, all while building good technique and collaborating with other students.
The camp focuses on students’ musical and social growth while providing skills that are necessary for building important foundations in music.
“Local piano teachers are very excited about this new camp because they know that their students can benefit from the experience tremendously,” said Hwa-Jin Kim, a member of UNC Asheville’s music faculty and director of the Summer Piano Camp.
The highlight of the camp is the final student recital in which students perform solos and four-hand duos on the last day at Lipinsky Auditorium in front of family, guests and teachers.
The Summer Piano Camp is the latest example of how the WCMA has given back to the Asheville community. Over the past seven years, the WCMA has raised 1.2 million dollars for local causes relating to health care, education, and environmental causes. In January 2018 a grant from the WCMA launched UNC Asheville’s Food Equity Initiative, with the goal of providing access to healthy, delicious food to the campus community.
“Most of the people who live at Walnut Cove aren’t from here…so this is a way they can get involved, learn about and volunteer in the community,” said Donna Bailey, a WCMA member and a member of the University of North Carolina at Asheville Foundation, who has been actively involved with the campus for six years.
The WCMA is a lifestyle opportunity for people who move into the community, Bailey said. Members of the community are always looking at how to give back after a successful life.
Bailey decided to get involved with the Summer Piano Camp after going to a recital at the home of Hwa-Jin Kim. Bailey said she was amazed by her performance that was at such a level she had only heard in places like Carnegie Hall.
Bailey encouraged Kim to apply for the WCMA grant to fund the Summer Piano Camp.
“She explained her piano camp and how she brings in students to really hone their skills as open the whole idea of the piano to children, and I just thought that was a wonderful idea,” Bailey said. In fact, Bailey and her husband, Dave Bailey, donated the remaining $4,500 needed after the grant was awarded to fully fund the camp’s request.
“My husband and I were so impressed by Hwa-Jin Kim, the faculty and the students who played at this recital and we thought it was important to support the program,” she said, and she plans to invite the WCMA to hear it for themselves at the camp’s final recital.
The grant and donation will be used to offset costs of the 2019 Summer Piano Camp, which include piano rentals, moving costs and tuition assistance for students in financial need.
Strengthening students’ talents is a common theme for grants from the WCMA, which also donated $6,600 to Leadership UNCA, a two-credit course for 20 sophomore college students beginning in fall 2019. The course will be taught in a unique partnership between Leadership Asheville, the Career Center, and Student Affairs. Leadership UNCA will incorporate resources not typically found in traditional coursework to prepare students for their future leadership after college.
Leadership UNCA will culminate in a formal banquet where students will have the chance to practice networking with alumni from Leadership Asheville, Walnut Cove Member Association representatives, UNC Asheville senior leadership, and members of the greater Asheville business and nonprofit community
Bailey said she got involved with Leadership UNCA because, “for me as a female who grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, women’s leadership was right there. I was young and watching Gloria Steinem. And I realized without her reaching down and pushing me, I would have never had the opportunities in my careers.
“So I believe in leadership, mentorship is an absolute necessity for both men and women to be successful,” Bailey continued.
Bailey’s involvement with UNC Asheville extends beyond her work in philanthropy to her position in the Bulldogs Athletic Association, where she helped the women’s golf team and the athletic mentorship program get started.
“When I started coming here and getting involved, I just really liked it. I started falling in love with it,” Bailey said. “I enjoyed getting involved with the community through the university.”
Bailey hopes to inspire more people from the community to get involved with UNC Asheville by connecting their passions with the university.
For Bailey, it’s all part of being involved in the important relationship between a community and its university. “How can you not give back to the people that give to you, in so many ways?”
For more information on WCMA, https://www.walnutcovemembers.com/grants