Music for the Lunch Bunch
Music for the Lunch Bunch, begun in 1985 is a series of free summer concerts held every Wednesday, beginning at 12:15 pm, featuring local artists performing a variety of music, with particular emphasis on classical music.
The 34th year of Music for the Lunch Bunch begins June 13th and is back this year with eight scheduled performance dates. The Music for the Lunch Bunch is a series of summer concerts held every Wednesday, at12:15 pm, featuring local artists performing a variety of music. The concert series is grassroots funded by the Johnston County Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council. There is no admission charge but donations are accepted. ALL performances will be at the First Presbyterian Church in Smithfield except the last one and it will be at "The Hut"- home of Neuse Little Theatre.
If you are a performer and wish to participate in the Music for the Lunch Bunch series, please contact JCAC at 919.938.0306 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dexter Ruffin - June 13
Dexter Ruffin was born (08/31/1987), in Wilson, North Carolina. As a young boy, at the age of nine, he taught himself to play the piano by ear. His remarkable talent was soon discovered and he was given professional training by Nancy Ping-Robbins of Wilson, Dr. Henry Doskey of the East Carolina University School of Music, and Eric Larsen at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he received a B.A. degree in Piano Performance in (year). Dexter won the “Student of the Year” award in 2002, presented by the community of Wilson. In 2006 he won the North Carolina School of the Arts Concerto Competition performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1. He currently serves as Music Minister at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Wilson.
Dr. Franklin Gross- June 20
Dr. Franklin Gross will perform for Music for the Lunch Bunch. He teaches Music Theory, Ear Training and Piano at the University of Mount Olive. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from Florida State University, and both a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. Performance and composition often meet at the piano for Dr. Gross, who specializes in arrangements of spiritual and popular music. As soloist and collaborator, he has performed at national conventions for the National Federation of Music Clubs and the College Band Directors National Association. In 2007, the Florida State Music Teachers Association named him, Florida Young Artist. Dr. Gross' performance of music by Pulitzer Prize winner, John Adams, has aired and re-aired on American Public Media's "Performance Today." Gross has presented papers for the National Association of African American Studies and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. He has taught at the collegiate level in central Texas and middle Georgia. In 2013, he earned an award for Faculty Excellence in Service, and in 2014 joined the faculty at the University of Mount Olive. Dr. Gross is a member of regional and national organizations promoting scholarship in music theory and music education. Beyond the classroom, he is a frequent performer in music events on the UMO campus and in the region.
Dara Edwards and Jim Elmore- June 27
Dara Edwards holds a BA in Piano Performance from UNC-G. She teaches in her private studio, Riverwood Music Academy, and has taught in the Clayton area for 37 years. She is the Director or Music at White Oak Baptist Church in Archer Lodge, and she accompanies the Clayton Youth Theater.
Jim Elmore is a retired educator with Johnston County Schools. He serves as Director of Music and Organist at First Baptist Church, Clayton, since the 1970’s. Mrs. Edwards and Mr. Elmore will perform piano and organ duets.
Ella Ann Holding- July 11
Ellen Ann Holding is a community treasure. A native of Smithfield, Mrs. Holding earned a Bachelor of Music degree cum laude from Salem College; she received their Distinguished Alumnae Award in 1996. As a student of Bruce Simonds, she acquired a Master of Music in Piano Performance at Yale University School of Music, twice winning the concerto competition. She did additional study at the Julliard School of Music under Katherine Bacon. Mrs. Holding was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied under Hilda Dederich.
Mrs. Holding has performed with the Yale University Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, the South Carolina Philharmonic, and the Spoleto Festival. Performing in recitals and on numerous concert series in Virginia and the Carolinas, she joined John Adams in duo-piano concerts and performed chamber music with the Leros Trio.
Mrs. Holding is featured on Albany Records’ “Chamber Music of Hunter Johnson.” The late Mr. Johnson was Composer Laureate of North Carolina. At its 2003 Commencement, Campbell University awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to her. She had previously been recognized there, receiving the Presidential Meritorious Award. Mrs. Holding held the first artist-in-residence position at Campbell for nine years.
Mary D. Williams- July 18
Mary D. Williams an Afro American historian and gospel performer for over 20 years, sings and shares narratives of the Black South. Mary has traveled to more than 40 colleges and universities, more than 30 public schools, over 100 churches, a dozen libraries, and seven public school teachers’ institutes, several of them week-long training sessions for teachers.
Mary, along with friend and colleague Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, author of Blood Done Sign My Name, has taught a community-based college course, “The South in Black and White: History, Culture and Politics in the 20th Century South,” six times to roughly 1,025 students. Several semesters the course has been taught at Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, for undergraduates from North Carolina Central University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Mary has truly developed into a public educator, studying North Carolina history and culture in Dr. Tyson’s graduate seminars at Duke and has been doing scholarly explorations of the history and theory of gospel music with Professor Jerma Jackson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mary graduated in 2016 from UNC with a major in American Studies and minors in African American Diaspora and History. Her knowledge of the music and the culture from which it emerged is not merely layman’s learning and experiential understanding, but is rooted in serious scholarly work. It is her primary goal not to just perform the best traditions of North Carolina, but to dissect their subtleties in an accessible manner for a wide listening and learning audience. She is considered a scholar in professional circles in both writing and performance. Professor Craig Werner, musicologist and chair of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says Mary offers “a glimpse into a world where the ideals of democracy and Christianity are something more than empty words. When you listen to Mary D. Williams, you’re hearing the voice of a great singer, but you’re also hearing the voices of the elders and the ancestors.”
Kathi Nixon and Georgia Kate Edgerton- July 25
Kathi Nixon holds a degree in English Literature from Wake Forest University. She is a long-time England and Theatre Arts teacher at Clayton High School. She has recently taken the lead in the Neuse Little Theatre’s production of Walking Across Egypt. Before that, she had a leading role in Witness for the Prosecution.
For many years Kathi and her children have performed an eclectic array of music. This year she and her daughter, Georgia Kate Edgerton, will perform together for Lunch Bunch. Georgia Kate is a student at ECU where she was recently named drum major for the Pirates’ marching band.
Kathi assures us theirs will be a variety-packed performance of vocals and strings.
Clayton Youth Theater- August 1
For the third year, the Clayton Youth Theater will bring portions of their summer production to Music for the Lunch Bunch. This year’s show is Bye Bye Birdie. You will be astounded by the talent of the young actors and musicians.
Neuse Little Theatre- August 8
A perennial favorite, this year the NLT will reprise the music for Smokey Joe’s Café, a musical revue of pop standards including rock and roll and rhythm and blues songs written by Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. This is the only performance of the summer that will not be held at First Presbyterian Church. It will be performed at The Hut, home of the Neuse Little Theatre.