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Arts & Entertainment

In 1996, Martha Weathers Brown had a vision to bring a regional children’s choir to Western North Carolina, believing in the power of music to shape and grow young individuals, and help choristers to develop skills and confidence that will stick with them for life.

Fifteen years later the vision is reality. Voices in the Laurel has grown into an internationally acclaimed choir which has sung by invitation around the world. With a growing reputation for close singing, Voices has sung by invitation in Hawaii; at the Sydney Opera House in Australia; at Charleston’s “Little Spoleto” Festival; in Washington, DC at the National Cathedral; in Denver, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan: Westminster Abbey in London, Chartres Cathedral in France, Diana Wortham Theater in Asheville, with the Lyric Opera of Asheville, with Ronnie Milsap at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and in Atlanta at the Atlanta Braves games.

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Each spring, The Bascom presents Collective Spirits, a three-day celebration of wine, food and the arts marking the opening of the Summer Season on the Highlands/Cashiers Plateau. From May 19-21, wine and dine throughout the weekend with some of the worlds most revered winemakers and the Southeast’s most renowned chefs. All will converge on Highlands and Cashiers among art lovers, community leaders and special guests for Private Home Wine Dinners, the Grand Tasting “Meet & Greet” Wine Market, benefit wine dinners at local restaurants, the “Catch the Spirit” Village Sip & Stroll, an exclusive “Reserve Wine” Tasting and the finale - the Grand Gala Benefit Dinner and Auction at The Bascom.

This year, Collective Spirits welcomes renowned Chef John Besh from Restaurant August in New Orleans, Chef John Fleer (formerly Chef at Blackberry Farm) now at Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers, Chef Carvel Gould from Canoe in Atlanta, Chef Frank Lee from S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad) in Charleston and Chef Todd Ginsberg from Bocado in Atlanta.

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The award-winning Branson on the Road is set to rock the stage of the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts for two shows on Saturday, May 14, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The original road show from Branson, Missouri entertains with classic country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and Gospel. Tickets are $10.

Branson on the Road brings together accomplished musicians playing a fiddle, mandolin, banjo, guitar, and upright slap bass, dresses them in rhinestone costumes, and wraps the whole thing in hilarious comedy.

Branson on the Road has been in existence for more than 20 years and is the first national touring show named for the famous city.

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CULLOWHEE – The new leader of Western Carolina University's Pride of the Mountains Marching Band is - drum roll, please - David Starnes, currently director of bands at Kennesaw Mountain High School in Kennesaw, Ga.

Starnes will be filling the well-worn shoes of Bob Buckner, retiring this summer after 20 years as director of athletic bands at WCU. The appointment is effective July 1.

"We are extremely excited about our bright future with David Starnes," said Matt Henley, assistant marching band director. "His successes as a band director are astonishing, and his fresh and energetic view on marching bands will take our program to even greater places. He is a consummate music educator, and our current bandsmen will certainly learn a great deal from him."

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