Singing for their supper: UNCG music students, faculty, and alumni host benefits for Greensboro Urban Ministry

Contact: Jessica Beamon, / 336-334-5428

Tuesday, April 24, 2013

It's been a busy spring in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. With nearly 50 required performances this spring alone, it's a wonder that students have time to sleep, much less organize benefit concerts. But that's just what they did.

On Saturday March 30, Imaginary Friends Ensemble, Immer String Quartet, and the Hendiatrist Trio

took to the stage at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant to collect food donations for the Greensboro Urban Ministry. Comprised of both current student and alumni musicians, the three ensembles presented a concert of traditional classical music featuring Schumann, Schubert, and Chopin, among others.

As for why she chose to support Greensboro Urban Ministry, event organizer Leslie Simmons had this to say, "We [Imaginary Friends Ensemble] worked with them before at a previous benefit concert. I was able to see the inner workings of the ministry, and meet some of the people that work there, as well as people who are helped by Urban Ministry. I was very impressed with what I saw."

420 pounds of food and over $100 in cash donations were collected.

On Monday, April 1, the music performance department revived an old tradition of hosting a follies concert with the "Beaux Eaux Extravaganza!" ("Beaux Eaux" is pronounced "bo zo" - a play on the concert being held on April Fool's Day.) Packed with tom foolery and cheeky wit, the performance featured music faculty and students playing everything from Bach to Tenacious D. The on-stage antics had the 150 poor souls in attendance rolling in the aisles.

Event organizer and faculty member Jim Douglass says of the concert, "I (and others) believe we need this outlet within our community - humor keeps us balanced - to laugh at ourselves, laugh at someone else, blow off some steam, lighten the load." He says he chose to support Greensboro Urban Ministry "because of their excellent track record, diverse programs, and as an extension of several activities already on campus that have had support efforts for GUM. I also personally believe in the powerful negative effect that hunger can have on an individual and family, and I want to do whatever we can to end that negative effect."

"Beaux Eaux" collected 20 grocery bags of food.

And this is all in addition to the 834 pounds of food that UNCG Theatre and the Alpha Psi Omega honor fraternity collected at a special performance of Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells November of last year.

Mike Aiken, executive director of the ministry, praises the school for its efforts. "Greensboro Urban Ministry appreciates the support given by the UNCG College of Visual and Performing Arts with their benefit concerts earlier this year. The food which was donated came at a time when nearly 1 in 3 children in Guilford County aren't sure where their next meal is coming. Hunger is a real problem, but there is a solution and cure. The UNCG College of Visual and Performing Arts and its students, faculty, and alumni are part of the solution. We are looking forward to the day when both hunger and homelessness are abolished! Let's end hunger and homelessness!" To date, the College of Visual and Performing Arts concerts and performances have collected 1,718 pounds (and counting) of food. (Total donations from UNCG for the year-so-far exceed 3,000 pounds.) "We cannot express in words how much this means to, not only Greensboro Urban Ministry, but to the hurting community. UNCG and all of your affiliates are some of our prime supporters - isn't this incredible for these young adults who are getting ready to make their mark in the world?" says food bank manager Val Marshall.

In addition to the concerts for Greensboro Urban Ministry, in December, graduate student in cello performance Christina Hart organized a concert to benefit victims of hurricane Sandy. Featuring nearly 80 student performers, the concert raised over $600 for the Island Harvest Food Bank in Long Island, NY.

To see more of what the UNCG College of Visual and Performing Arts is up to, visit us online at

Founded in 1967, Greensboro Urban Ministry, a 501(c)(3) organization, is an ecumenical outreach agency supported by more than 200 congregations representing Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faith traditions.