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PEMBROKE – Art and music can overcome life’s challenges even during a pandemic.
Following this belief, the Givens Performing Arts Center and the International Artists Foundation partly led to the winning of a highly regarded award for their latest joint project.
The Givens Performing Arts Center on the University of North Carolina campus at Pembroke and the International Artists Foundation in Lumberton received the Gold NYX Award 2020 for their joint video presentation of music by Lumberton composer Mark Andersen. The NYX Video Awards is an international competition open to marketing, communications and video professionals whose creative expertise and skills are both celebrated and recognized.
“This is an exciting honor,” said James Bass, GPAC Executive Director. “I’m so proud, not only of the award, but also of the story that led us to this humiliating recognition.”
The project began when Bass, who is credited with producing the project, reached out to Mark Andersen to give a concert for GPAC’s Front Row Arts Series that showcased virtual performances by local and regional artists.
In August 2020 Andersen recorded “Rhapsody for Piano” in three movements for the series. The music was written by Andersen during the COVID-19 pandemic and debuted on the GPAC stage.
Not only was the concert special because it was the first time the music was performed on stage, but Andersen feared it might be his last performance.
“Mark is really a gift to our community. He’s an absolutely great musician and I wanted his music to be part of this series, ”said Bass. “Little did I know then that Mark was facing a very daunting health challenge.”
The health challenge was kidney cancer, which was diagnosed about a year ago.
“It was level 3 and I didn’t know how it would turn out,” said Andersen. “There was a very strong possibility that this could have been my last performance.”
Since Anderson was previously diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, his condition was inoperable at the time.
“They had to get me in better shape before they could do the surgery,” said Andersen. “It was kind of a waiting game to see if I could get in good enough shape to have surgery before the cancer spread and it was too late.”
After witnessing the positive feedback and large audience of the concert, Lynn Andersen, executive producer of the international artist, felt compelled to submit the project for the prestigious NYX award. On December 18, Andersen learned that the submission had been selected after an intensive evaluation period with 1,616 entries from 33 countries.
“We were extremely pleased to have worked with GPAC producer James Bass and his staff on the production of this important concert of original music,” said Lynn Andersen.
A nice stage and professional staff would have made the process a lot easier, he said.
“We could have a very nice venue that was easy to work with and people that were easy to work with,” said Lynn Andersen. “They were all prepared for us. We filmed and came home and started editing. “
Although Mark Andersen lives in Lumberton, he is an internationally known composer and concert artist. His education includes East Carolina University, the American Conservatory of Music and the Paris Conservatory of Music, where he studied organ with Marcel Dupré and composition with Nadia Boulanger. He has played in many locations internationally, including the Royal Albert Hall in London; Carnegie Hall, New York; Lincoln Center, New York; and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
In his career he has composed more than 200 pieces for organ, choir, symphony and solo instruments, including classical works and music for Broadway and opera stages.
Mark Andersen said he was grateful for the invitation to do what he thought was his last performance at GPAC.
“I certainly wouldn’t have had the chance at this point to go back and play at Carnegie Hall or any of the other important places like the Kennedy Center or a place I’ve played many times in my life but is GPAC here.” Andersen said. “It’s my favorite place to be in Robeson County, so I was very, very happy to have the opportunity.”
Shortly after Andersen’s concert debut, he learned that his prayers had been answered.
“I relied on my faith and the Lord was good to me and put me in a form that had my kidney removed,” said Andersen. “It did not spread and was contained in the kidney that was removed.”
“When Mark told me about his upcoming surgery and shared his fear that this would be his last gig – and in the midst of a global pandemic where performing live wasn’t even an option – I really knew what we were doing That was something special, “said Bass.
Andersen’s video, which has been viewed more than 1,000 times, is a 30-minute performance of original music composed during the quarantine months of the pandemic, entitled “Rhapsody for Piano”.
Bass said it was shown not only on the GPAC website but also in Carnegie Hall.
“I’m just amazed at how popular it has become in such a short amount of time,” said Bass.
“We are proud of all of the great individuals, agencies and companies that have joined the NYX Awards this year,” said Kenjo Ong, CEO, International Awards Associate. “This victory for the International Artists Foundation and the Givens Performing Arts Center is not only a testament to their unbridled talent, but will also inspire many for years to come.”
The winners were impartially judged by a group of respected marketing, communications and video professionals. The IAA selected a jury of international judges as part of the decision-making process and adhered to a strict code of excellence. The NYX Awards represent diversity and ingenuity from all over the world. The 2020 panel consisted of judges from 16 countries.
Submissions included some well-known global brands including World Vision Canada, Heineken USA, PETA, Ferrari, BMW, Audi, Player One Trailers, Ubisoft, the Morris Animal Foundation, TikTok Canada, Canon Singapore, Ericson Group Inc., FabFitFun and Adidas, Paradox Interactive, King Art Games, Miami Ad School, the American Migraine Foundation, BBC Studioworks / Shoot You Ltd., Dell EMC, Unilever, CGTN, Lexus, Western Digital and AARP, to name a few.
“A NYX Award was never just about the title. It is an endorsement of the hard work these people have put into their work, ”said Ong. “Your phenomenal ideas and concepts are two big reasons why the NYX Awards continue to recognize skills and expertise that go beyond the norm.”
Andersen recently learned that his scans were clear and that he is still cancer free.
“It turns out that the operation they did at Duke was a complete success, so I’ll be playing again,” said Andersen.
He often plays for the Trinity Episcopal Church in Lumberton. Videos of the performances can be viewed on the Church’s YouTube channel.
“Rhapsody for Piano” can be found on the Givens Performing Arts Center website.