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For EMF faculty members with local roots, the music festival 'feels like a wonderful homecoming'

Violist Chauncey Patterson rehearses with the Eastern Music Festival orchestra at Dana Auditorium on Guilford College campus in Greensboro, N.C., on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

Cellist Beth Vanderborgh smiles as she rehearses with the Eastern Music Festival orchestra on June 25. “Students who come are fabulous and it’s fun to teach them,” she says of returning to teach at EMF. “Our maestro is absolutely, astoundingly amazing. The orchestra sounds fantastic. The chamber music is great. And the friendships we have formed over these 20 years are remarkable.”


Each summer, Beth Vanderborgh and John Fadial pack up their car in Laramie, Wyo., for a 1,700-mile trip east.

For five weeks, the husband-and-wife musicians return to the city where they lived for 10 years, raised two children, taught and played for the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra and Eastern Music Festival.

They moved in 2008 to teach at the University of Wyoming. Yet they still played with the Greensboro Symphony until 2016.

But they have not left EMF. This marks their 20th year with the classical music festival that began 58 years ago.

Vanderborgh, a cellist, and Fadial, a violinist, help teach 270 young student musicians from around the world during the five-week festival based at Guilford College.

They perform in the faculty orchestra of 75 professional musicians under the direction of Gerard Schwarz.

Although it’s an intense schedule from morning until late at night, “Everything about it is great,” Vanderborgh, 54, said from their campus apartment.

“Students who come are fabulous and it’s fun to teach them,” she said. “Our maestro is absolutely, astoundingly amazing. The orchestra sounds fantastic. The chamber music is great. And the friendships we have formed over these 20 years are remarkable.”

Fadial, 53, enjoys seeing familiar faces in the audience, from his years at EMF and UNCG and as concertmaster for the Greensboro Symphony.

“On the days you’re not playing, you have a chance to meet and greet,” he said.

Violists Diane Phoenix-Neal and Chauncey Patterson grew up in the Triad. Now Phoenix-Neal teaches in Virginia, Patterson in Miami.

But they return each summer to teach and perform at EMF.

EMF violinist and Greensboro native Courtney LeBauer regularly comes from Germany.

Other professional commitments kept LeBauer away this summer. She will become a violin professor at Converse College in South Carolina this fall.

These musicians are no strangers to travel.

They make their careers and livings by performing across the U.S. and abroad.

When Phoenix-Neal returns home to McLeansville for EMF, “It feels like a wonderful homecoming, a family reunion,” she says. “My colleagues are like brothers and sisters ... I am very proud that the festival has continued to thrive for more than 50 years.”

In 1961, Sheldon “Shelly” Morgenstern began laying the groundwork for what would become EMF. Its first concert took place on July 16, 1962.

“I stood on the steps of Dana Auditorium and watched with wonder and pride as the crowd started pouring in,” Morgenstern wrote in his book, “No Vivaldi in the Garage.”

Morgenstern spent 36 years as its music director and conductor. He died in Switzerland in 2007 of complications from stomach cancer.

Patterson and Phoenix-Neal remember Morgenstern well. Before they were faculty members at EMF, they were students.

Patterson, 58, was born in 1961.

“I joked with him that I felt like he started the festival for me,” Patterson said.

He began playing viola at age 8 in Burlington public schools. He joined the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra. While attending Williams High School, he was accepted into EMF as a student in 1977. He stayed for four summers.

To Patterson, EMF was “an oasis.”

“I wouldn’t say there was lot of racial tension in my school,” he said. “When I got to EMF, there was none of that. It was all about music and people from everywhere. There were no cliques of people. ... So many things that happened later in my life were a result of those summers. ... Everything I play and everything I hear, I heard or played for the first time at Eastern Music Festival.”

Fast forward to 1984. A graduating student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Patterson had just been hired by the Denver Symphony in Colorado. He was free for the summer. Then he learned of an opening on EMF’s faculty.

Morgenstern hired Patterson. There he stayed until 1991, when he joined the Miami String Quartet. It had a busy summer schedule. He reluctantly left EMF.

But Patterson got to return. In 2012, he filled a slot when his replacement left. “I couldn’t believe my luck,” he said.

During the school year, Patterson teaches at Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton, Fla. He plays solo viola for Florida Grand Opera and principal viola for the Palm Beach Symphony — where Schwarz soon will add more duties as its music director.

Patterson built a studio apartment behind his mother’s Burlington home. On summer days, he drives his 2004 PT Cruiser up U.S. 70 to Guilford College.

He passes his father’s grave at Alamance Memorial Park.

“I get to speak to him every day, twice a day,” he said. “I always look forward to that.”

Once at Guilford College, “I love passing on to these students my love for music and the love that my teachers had for music,” he said.

Like Patterson, Phoenix-Neal fondly remembers her student days at EMF, when she lived in Greensboro.

Now 54 and a married mother of four, she studied viola there for two summers at ages 14 and 15.

“It was the beginning of me falling in love with music as a career,” she said.

After the first summer, Phoenix-Neal auditioned for what is now UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

“I said, ‘I want to do what I’m doing at EMF all year,’” she said.

She graduated from high school and college there, while playing for the Greensboro Symphony. She headed to the Juilliard School in New York for her master’s degree and to UNCG for her doctorate.

As she returned to Greensboro for her doctoral studies, Morgenstern hired her for EMF.

Her teaching career has meant lots of commuting. She commuted to Fayetteville State University to lead the strings program. Then she spent four years in Iowa, teaching at three colleges.

Now she’s back on the East Coast, teaching at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

EMF has remained a constant. Phoenix-Neal has been there for 22 years, minus a leave of absence last year to spend more time with family.

Nine years ago, Phoenix-Neal found another way for EMF to benefit Greensboro.

She created EMF Encircling the City. It brings String Fellows quartet performances for children and families to Greensboro Public Library branches.

They play free short concerts of major works from classical literature.

“It’s an amazing offering and so fitting for a city that has so many valuable cultural arts activities,” she said. “EMF can be a part of that.”

In his Independence Day speech in D.C., Trump lauds High Point man who took part in Woolworth lunch counter sit-in

A High Point man and longtime civil rights activist was honored during President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July speech in the nation’s capital Thursday.

Clarence Henderson, 77, was praised by the president for his role in the Greensboro sit-in at the segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960.

“Clarence Henderson was 18 years old when he took his place in history. Six decades later he is here tonight in his seat of honor,” Trump said in his speech. “Clarence, thank you for making this country a much better place.”

Henderson, who was at the rainy celebration in Washington, said he appreciated Trump’s recognition.

The White House had called to invite him to attend the event, “A Salute to America,” which included a parade, fireworks, a show of military aircraft and Trump’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

“Anything I’ve done in my life I’ve never done it for recognition. I’ve done it because I thought it needed to be done,” Henderson said. “It was a great honor to be asked to come up and be recognized.”

He was a student at N.C. A&T in Greensboro when he joined the original four lunch counter protesters — A&T students who would become known as the Greensboro Four — on the second day of the sit-in, which began Feb. 1, 1960.

He said his friend and one of the Greensboro Four, Ezell Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), whom he had known since first grade, asked him to participate in the fight against racial segregation, enforced by Jim Crow laws, and he was “brave enough to answer the call.”

“I walked into that place, not knowing if I’d leave going to jail or the morgue,” he said. “I was all of 18, but I’d seen so many things growing up and knew we had to put Jim Crow laws aside, bottom line.”

As a civil rights champion, Henderson has been criticized for his candid support of the Republican Trump in his climb to the presidency.

But Henderson, who ran a financial services business for more than 25 years before retiring, said Trump has proven his business prowess and was the clear choice over the Democratic candidate in 2016, Hillary Clinton.

Henderson, whose father was a lifelong Republican, cast his first Republican presidential vote for George W. Bush and continued voting for Republicans, even when Barack Obama stood poised to become the first black president.

Henderson, who has given an invocation on five occasions for Trump, said the president’s speech and the overall Fourth of July event were further proof that Trump has been right for the job.

While the event was criticized for featuring military tanks and other armored vehicles, Henderson said it was celebratory and showed America’s strength.

“I think it was a great red, white and blue salute to America, nothing political about it,” he said. “One thing about our president is he cheerleads America. That’s one thing we need in a president.”

An interesting article in today's newspaper

Guns in schools: Police train armed teachers in Utah how to respond if a shooter attacks their school. Page A8

'Hoarders' houseowners appeal denial of permit to operate as bed-and-breakfast

GREENSBORO — New owners of the historic mansion featured on the TV show “Hoarders” have not abandoned their efforts to turn part of it into a bed-and-breakfast.

They have appealed the Greensboro Zoning Commission’s decision to deny the special use permit needed to operate in the single-family residential district of Fisher Park.

At its May 20 meeting, the zoning commission voted 4-3 against a motion to approve the bed-and-breakfast permit request for the rejuvenated home at 301 Fisher Park Circle.

The Fisher Park Neighborhood Association board spoke in favor of the permit, with conditions.

But about eight residents spoke against it, voicing concerns about parking and noise.

Attorneys filed the appeal on June 28 in Guilford County Superior Court on behalf of E&V Properties, the real estate development company run by property owners Michael and Eric Fuko-Rizzo. It named the city of Greensboro as the defendant.

“Petitioners’ proposed use of the property as a bed-and-breakfast met all requirements set forth (in the zoning ordinance),” the appeal said.

Among those requirements: the owner or operator must live on site. The Fuko-Rizzos recently moved into part of the house with their 4-year-old twin daughters.

They had planned to rent out five other bedrooms in the 31-room, 90-year-old house to guests. Guests would eat breakfast at Iron Hen Cafe two blocks away, Michael Fuko-Rizzo said in a Thursday interview.

Jake Keys, the city communications manager, said Friday that the city does not have a comment because the permit ruling came from a commission.

Known as Hillside, the brick and half-timbered mansion was built in 1929 for Julian Price, the president of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co.

For years, its beauty was hidden under overgrown foliage and clutter, accumulated by then-owner Sandra Cowart.

In January 2017, it gained national fame as the setting for an episode of the A&E television reality series “Hoarders.”

Cowart lost the property to foreclosure. Under the Fuko-Rizzos, it underwent a major transformation. Michael Fuko-Rizzo declined to say how much they spent.

In spring 2018, it became the site of a Designer Show House to benefit Preservation Greensboro. Preliminary figures show that Preservation Greensboro earned about $120,000 from the show house, but the audit is not complete, Executive Director Benjamin Briggs said.

But when a wedding was held at the house in November, Fisher Park neighbors complained about cars and noise.

“When a family friend said, ‘Can I have a wedding there?’ I had never processed that they couldn’t or shouldn’t,” Michael Fuko-Rizzo said in an interview at the time.

A Toys for Tots holiday event for Realtors brought more traffic and complaints. Frustration on both sides spilled into the neighborhood association’s annual meeting in December.

The Fuko-Rizzos agreed to conditions for the use of the home.

It would not be an event center, they said.

They agreed to comply with the zoning rules for bed-and-breakfasts in a residential neighborhood.

Rules also require that: it not be within 400 feet of a rooming house or other bed-and-breakfast; it allows no more than six guest rooms, and that guests can’t stay longer than 15 days within a 60-day period.

The owners agreed to more conditions: to make guest records available to the zoning administrator, to locate required parking on site, and to prohibit bands, DJs, amplified speakers or instruments outdoors at any time or indoors after 10 p.m.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission recommended the special use permit, saying that a bed-and-breakfast would be compatible with the goal of the long-term preservation of the house, city Senior Planner Mike Cowhig said.

The appeal contends that the zoning commission based its denial “on conclusions unsupported by factual data, those being speculative assertions, mere expressions of opinion, and generalized fears...”

Michael Fuko-Rizzo calls the permit denial and appeal “just another bump in the road” during the four-year process of buying and restoring the house.

“It will all work out,” he said.

Gun-related violence in Greensboro didn’t slow in June

GREENSBORO — A month after the police chief promised more resources to combat violence in the city, the number of crimes continues to climb, including four more killings last month and another in the first few hours of this month.

However, police officials said it’s too early to determine if the changes will be effective.

“At this point we don’t want to be overly reactive and make changes too quickly so that we don’t give time for the changes we put in place to work,” said Ron Glenn, a spokesman for the Greensboro Police Department. “We don’t want to look at the numbers during a short time span and say this kind of change hasn’t had any effect.”

On June 3, Assistant City Manager Nathaniel Davis and Police Chief Wayne Scott held a joint news conference to address the city’s violence. Scott promised to continue the Gun Stoppers program, put more uniformed officers in areas experiencing gun violence, and partner with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to get faster confirmation on shell casings and ballistic matches for guns used in Greensboro crimes.

Since Jan. 1, officers have responded to 22 homicides, 161 reports of aggravated assault involving a gun, 123 incidents where shots were fired into occupied dwellings and 49 calls for discharge of a firearm.

In June, officers responded to 36 aggravated assaults, 23 shootings into occupied dwellings, six calls for discharging a firearm and four homicides.

Here’s a list of people killed in Greensboro in June, each the victim of gunfire:

June 18: Mamie Martin, 30, found shot at the Cavalier Inn at 312 W. JJ Drive.

June 20: Korey Fitzgerald, 39, found shot at 2107 16th St.

June 26: Jaishon Banks, 36, found shot inside a wrecked vehicle in the 1900 block of Merritt Drive.

June 28: James Cashier, 31, found shot in the 700 block of Watkins Street.

And the violence continued into this month.

Officers didn’t make it five hours into July without responding to a fatal shooting. Kingmenmireseti Smith, 14, was found shot at Sussman Park.

In 2017, Greensboro set a record with 44 killings in one year. Last year, the number decreased to 35.

However, the city is on pace to reach that 2017 number again this year.

Police officials say they hope the extra resources focused on curbing violence, particularly gun violence, will have an effect on that tally.

Glenn said Scott delivered on the promises he made in early June to combat the violent trend.

However, the police department had a minor setback on one of those goals. Last week, its only certified gun analyst left, which makes the partnership with the ATF that much more important.

Glenn said the departure will slow things down a bit while they train a replacement, but police can still have the guns used in crimes locally analyzed by the ATF.

Glenn said Scott also put more officers on the streets as he promised, though not necessarily in uniform. He said Scott asked a few special teams from the investigative unit to adjust their schedules and go into neighborhoods where violent crimes are happening regularly.

He said those officers might be plainclothes detectives, but they work in those areas daily, meet with residents and are visible in the community.

He said they are balancing their caseload and being proactive about gathering information from residents in those areas, as well as gaining their trust.

“We’re not just present but building active relationships in the community to address these things,” Glenn said. “We’re working with people to cooperate with current investigations and get people off the street that are causing these shootings.”