Three important figures in the arts in central N.C. took leave of us in the past week. All were passionately devoted to their work. All significantly enriched the lives of those they intersected in their careers. In the overall scheme of things, each departed too soon. All will be missed. Our hearts go out to their families, their many friends, and all who were touched by them.

Conductor Robert Gutter was 79. With thanks to Norman Lebrecht: “The daughter of Robert Gutter, former music director of the Springfield Symphony and founder of the International Institute of Conducting, has posted news of his death.

“Gutter was director of orchestral activities for the past 20 years at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Born in 1938 in New York City and graduating from Yale, he also studied in Siena with Franco Ferrara.

“He was Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine in Kiev from 1996-2000 and subsequently of the Philharmonic Orchestra Mihail Jora of Bacau, Romania.”

He also served as Music Director of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra immediately prior to Fouad Fakhouri’s ten-year tenure – alas, this was before CVNC extended its reach to Cumberland County.

His name appears in 23 reviews in CVNC, starting in 2001, mostly at UNCG, where he led orchestral programs and opera, and also with the Philharmonia of Greensboro. Use the site’s search engine to call them up.

A photo and video and additional comments are here.

And there’s additional information from the N&R here.


Jeannie Opperman Mellinger, 70, served as communications director of the NC Symphony from 2000-12 and was editor of the orchestra’s Opus Magazine during that tenure. In these capacities we CVNCers and other workers in the music business were in frequent contact with and frequent beneficiaries of her tireless efforts to promote the work of our state orchestra within N.C.

Her son Sam posted notice of her death on Facebook:

“Hello friends. An update from Jeannie’s family – sadly, she passed away early Thursday morning. No pain, no suffering, but a huge hole in all of our hearts.”

The memorial will be held Friday, June 9, at 2 p.m.. at the Washington Duke Inn.

“If you are so moved, please send donations (in lieu of flowers) to one of two organizations she loved and supported:

Mallarme Chamber Players ( where she served as a board member

Kidznotes: Changing the life trajectory of underserved K-12 students through orchestral training (

“Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and support. She would have loved all of them.”


Chuck Davis, 80, was truly a larger-than-life figure here and beyond as a principal exemplar of African and African-American dance, chiefly but not totally within the context of his African American Dance Ensemble. His death leaves a void that will require many folks to join together to begin to fill. He was without exception always a positive force to be reckoned with in public although it is a fact that he was the gentlest and most gracious of giants backstage. We last saw him in action during the memorial service held at Archives and History for Andrea Lawson late last fall. We are richly blessed by the ongoing work of Davis’ many students around the world, so his legacy absolutely lives on.

His formal obit is here.

An article from the New York Times is available here.


We will update the other two reports if and when longer write-ups are available and all three when memorial details are known.