Kentucky voices

Ky. Voices: UK must retain ambassador of music, cultivator of talent

February 22, 2013 

We are alarmed about the possibility that Everett McCorvey might be leaving the University of Kentucky.

As a community music organization, we are obviously not aware of all of the financial constraints under which UK is struggling, but we urge President Eli Capilouto in the strongest terms to do everything possible to keep one of the most valuable members of the faculty.

The most important reason that McCorvey is essential to UK is his gift of excellence to the university and the local community. Excellence is a word tossed around with great frequency, but he has achieved excellence in every dimension of his work: the quality of the students he has brought to UK, the vocal talent that appears at every one of his productions, and the very high quality of each of his productions.

If you were to ask a member either of the university or the local community to name the three most excellent programs at UK (leaving out basketball), virtually every person would name the opera program and, particularly, McCorvey's role in nourishing and guiding it.

Also his recruiting and training of African-American singers is nationally and internationally known. His role in arranging and hosting many events during the World Equestrian Games gave him great prominence. And the American Spiritual Ensemble has toured and earned rave reviews internationally. In these cases, and in many more (like the recent stunning production of Porgy and Bess), McCorvey has been a role model and surely the university's most visible and successful African-American outside of sports.

Finally, McCorvey has been astonishingly successful in community outreach. He has developed a large and intense local audience for opera, a fact that often astonishes visitors to Lexington. He has raised large amounts of money, and is beloved by everyone. If there is a shining example of the contributions UK has made to the larger community, surely that example would be Everett McCorvey.

For these reasons, Capilouto and Michael Tick, Dean of Fine Arts, should do everything they can to prevent the loss to our community of this truly wonderful faculty member. His leaving would leave a huge hole in our hearts, one that could not be soon filled.

Marlon G. Hurst is artistic director and William J. Marshall is president of the board of Kentucky Bach Choir in Lexington.

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