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Susan Klebanow
Zachary Smith Term Distinguished Professor Susan Klebanow

The department is pleased to announce that Professor Susan Klebanow has been appointed Zachary Smith Term Distinguished Professor. Professor Klebanow’s appointment as Zachary Smith Term Distinguished Professor is effective July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2026.

In an email to department faculty, Professor and Chair David Garcia wrote,

“Zachary Smith Distinguished Term Professorships represent the best in undergraduate teaching at the University and are awarded for four years in the areas of the arts, humanities, and social sciences. This term professorship recognizes tenured faculty who are making exceptional contributions to undergraduate education at UNC-Chapel Hill. It also is intended to support and expand undergraduate research opportunities across the College.

Beloved by generations of students, Professor Klebanow’s 35-year career represents the best in undergraduate teaching at the University. Having been honored by two of Carolina’s highest teaching awards—the Tanner Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Chapman Family Faculty—Professor Klebanow continually demonstrates the excellence required of the title of distinguished professor.”

We reached out to Professor Klebanow to learn more about her feelings on and hopes for this exciting appointment.

UNC Music: You have received numerous teaching awards throughout your tenure at UNC, including the Tanner Faculty Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the Chapman Family Faculty Award. What does this distinguished professorship appointment mean to you?
Professor Susan Klebanow: I was deeply moved to receive this recognition, particularly because the nomination came from my colleagues in the Music Department. Also, this appointment represents the College’s confidence in and commitment to the performing arts and is a wonderful way to launch this next chapter of my teaching career.

Susan Klebanow seen from over her left shoulder, conducting the Chamber Singers, in concert and smiling.UNC Music: This appointment is meant to honor teaching excellence and help support undergraduate research opportunities in the College. How do you plan to use the appointment to further undergraduate research opportunities?
Professor Klebanow: I have two collaborative projects coming up next year that I am very excited about. The first is a performance of Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, which the UNC Chamber Singers will perform in December with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle here at UNC and at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. I will also be working with students to prepare the chorus for Rhiannon Giddens’ stunning new opera Omar which is part of the Carolina Performing Arts 2022-23 Series and will be performed in February. I am very grateful to have the support of this Distinguished Professorship to work with my students and some extraordinary guest artists on these two projects. 

UNC Music: What are some of your favorite parts of teaching?
Professor Klebanow: I love the day-to-day interaction with students and I find it thrilling to hear great choral works coming to life in their voices. It’s fun to see their faces light up on the first day of rehearsal when they hear how rich and radiant the group sounds. And of course, it is tremendously gratifying to share in a fine performance that is palpably uplifting.

UNC Music: What lesson(s) do you hope your students will take away from studying with you?
Professor Klebanow: I hope students will learn that you can’t always judge a piece of music on a first hearing. A true masterpiece becomes more and more satisfying over time, with each, rehearsal and performance revealing something new. I hope, too, that students appreciate the integrity of the work that we do in rehearsal every day and of the community that we build together. I want them to leave Carolina with an understanding that the process of creating something beautiful and meaningful, whether it is choral music, another art form, or their future work in the world, has the extraordinary power to bring people together – especially in challenging times.

Carolina Choir and UNC Chamber Singers
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

by Catherine Zachary ’10


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