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by Parth Upadhyaya

As Gerry Bell walked near McCorkle Place on UNC’s campus on a February 2017 evening, he heard a sound come out of Person Hall that stopped him in his tracks.

The UNC Department of Music was gearing up for its first annual Spectrum Concert, celebrating the grand opening of Moeser Auditorium in Hill Hall, and an ensemble was rehearsing in Person.

Bell, an adjunct professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and a psychologist who founded the Bell Leadership Institute, was fascinated. After learning of the concert, he decided to attend. He was hooked.

Now, three years later, the music department is preparing to host its fourth-annual Spectrum Concert. And Bell, who has become an avid supporter and advocate for the event, is helping fund it yet again.

“I was just stunned and staggered by the beauty,” Bell recalled from attending the event in 2017. “I thought, ‘I’ve discovered a gold mine.’”

The 2020 Spectrum Concert will take place on Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Hill Hall, with tickets $10 for general admission and $5 for students and UNC faculty. More than 14 ensembles and individuals will perform or present research. A few include the UNC Violin Studio, Carolina Bluegrass Band, the Marching Tar Heels, UNC Piano Studio, UNC Glee Club and UNC Opera.

Like in previous years, groups will be placed all around Moeser Auditorium, performing for about three to four minutes each.

Evan Feldman, the director of wind studies, is organizing the event for the fourth time. He hopes that the concert introduces attendees to groups within the UNC Department of Music that they might not be familiar with.

“Most people who I think attend music department events attend something very specific,” he said. “‘Yeah, I’m going to come hear the jazz band.’ They don’t know the Carolina Choir or (UNC) Opera or whatever exists. Or if they do, it’s not on their radar.”

While Feldman tries not to dictate the repertoire for most groups, he has to ensure there’s a “natural flow to things,” which means making sure that pieces transition well. For example, he doesn’t want three slow tunes in a row, nor does he want four loud tunes played consecutively.

“There’s a little bit more spice involved with the Spectrum again because it’s not only different groups, but it’s different spaces,” Feldman said. “… It’s a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle.”

The finale of the 3rd Annual Spectrum concert on February 2, 2019. (Johnny Andrews / UNC-Chapel Hill)

Cat Zachary, the department’s communications coordinator, helped promote last year’s concert, which was nearly sold out. It marked the best turnout for a Spectrum Concert since the event started in 2017.

The department hopes to build off last year’s success in this year’s annual showcase.

“It just adds so much to the atmosphere,” Zachary said. “Because the audience brings in their energy and fills the space, and the students then can look out and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, there are so many people here. This is amazing. Let’s do this.’”

Generosity, from Gerry and his wife, Tina, has helped the concert gain exposure over the last two years.

The couple began printing brochures ahead of the 2018 Spectrum Concert. Gerry would hand them out around UNC’s campus, at places like the Student Union and the Pit.

What Gerry calls “the luck of hearing the music” on that February evening in 2018 made him want to invest in the future of the event. Since then, the Bells have put in the resources to elevate the concert to what it is today.

Now, they hope everyone else can enjoy the “gold mine” that Gerry once discovered, too.

“We’ve tried to drum up interest,” Gerry said, “because we thought it’s a gift for everybody to see it.”

To learn more about the 2020 Spectrum Concert, click here.

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