Robert Ward, One of Founders Of University Of NC School Of Arts In Winston-Salem Dies

6:04 PM, Apr 3, 2013   |    comments
  • Robert Ward, UNCSA
  • Robert Ward, UNCSA
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Winston-Salem, NC-- A Triad university is mourning the loss of one of its founding members who died Wednesday.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) announced the death of Robert Ward, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who was among the founders of the school and served as its President, and later, Chancellor from 1967-74.

A University spokesperson said Ward died at his home in Durham. He was 95.

Robert Ward's Background:
**Information provided by UNCSA 

A composer of music in a wide variety of genres, Ward's most enduring and well-known work is The Crucible, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In 2011, he received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Opera Honors, the nation's highest award in opera.

Ward was UNCSA's second top administrator, becoming President upon the death of Vittorio Giannini. During his tenure, he oversaw the integration of the School of the Arts into the University of Carolina system. At that point, his title changed to Chancellor.

"UNCSA owes a fundamental debt to Robert Ward," said Chancellor John Mauceri. "The school was only a year and a half old when Vittorio Giannini passed away. It was left to Robert Ward to make the idea a functioning reality, which is exactly what he did."

Ward initiated UNCSA's International Music Program and International Dance Program, both of which endured for years. He oversaw the creation of the School of Design and Production and the high school Visual Arts Program. He helped lay the foundations for Piedmont Opera, which remains closely tied to UNCSA. While he was Chancellor, Ward taught composition in the School of Music. He continued to teach from 1975-79, after stepping down as Chancellor.

Longtime friend Chancellor Emeritus Alex C. Ewing said, "It was the great good fortune of the North Carolina School of the Arts that Dr. Robert Ward was here to become its first Chancellor after President Giannini died.

"Bob Ward was a wise, compassionate, energetic leader, as well as an eminent composer and champion of the arts," Ewing continued. "We all still look up to him as a founding father and pillar of the school."

Mauceri said Ward's legacy lives on not only in the unique school that he nurtured, but throughout the world, whenever his symphonies, chamber music, and operas are performed. "The musical language the world has come to understand as American is due in part to the music and tireless work of Robert Ward," Mauceri said. "Ward's operas, performed around the world, continue to tell American tales in an American voice: Robert Ward's voice."

Trustee Emeritus and UNCSA founder Thomas S. Kenan, III, recalled that he saw Ward in February, when the North Carolina Symphony performed the composer's works at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill. "He was on the front row, stood up and took a bow and was greeted by many after the performance," Kenan said. "He truly loved UNCSA and his time spent as Chancellor. An era has passed."

Faculty-artist Kenneth Frazelle, who studied under Ward as a high school student in the School of Music, said his mentor "had the courage and commitment to write the music he loved, despite the critical or academic trends of the time. His music is direct, deeply felt, and profoundly American, and will endure in its fine craftsmanship and generous open-heartedness.

"Ward's artistry and insight are alive everywhere that one of his students teaches," Frazelle continued. "Just yesterday in my classes I passed on words of wisdom from Bob Ward no less than three times."

Frazelle noted that the four years he spent studying with Ward "will always remain among my fondest and most musically illuminating memories."

Ward is survived by his five children. His wife of 62 years, Mary Ward, died in 2006.

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