A Tribute to Copey Hanes, the Jia String Quartet, Arts for Life, and the Art of Letterforming

A Tribute to Copey Hanes, the Jia String Quartet, Arts for Life, and the Art of Letterforming

1:24pm Jan 17, 2014
Helen Copenhaver Hanes
University of North Carolina School of the Arts



You know, the Triad didn’t get to be an arts rich community by pure chance. Sure, we can thank the Moravian settlers for setting the artistic bar early and setting it very, very high. But sustaining that level of quality in our regional orchestras, theatres, and galleries decade after decade takes extraordinary efforts by artists, audiences, businesses, and certain key individuals who are willing to put their money and ingenuity where their mouths are. They are patrons of the arts, and today on the program we pay tribute to arguably one of the greatest patronesses of the arts that the Piedmont Triad has ever known: Copey Hanes. Then, among Copey’s many achievements was helping to establish the University of NC School of the Arts, and we’ll hear the fruits if her labors with UNCSA’s Jia string quartet, Live in Studio A. Arts for Life brings poetry, music, and visual art to children battling major illnesss, film scholar Dale Pollock takes us Behind the Scenes of a new movie-going trend, and Bethany Chafin puts a fine point on calligraphy.



Helen Copenhaver "Copey" Hanes

When asked how she would like to be remembered, Helen Copenhaver Hanes said “If people want to know, just tell them I lived here, I loved it, and I believed in it, and it’s been an important part of my life.” “Copey” Hanes as she was best known was certainly an important part of our lives in the Triad arts community. She passed away on December 28th, 2013 at the age of 96. The Virginia native who called Winston-Salem home for 73 years had an enormous impact on the arts scene here beginning with the University of NC School of the Arts.

In 1964, after her husband, the late state senator James Gordon Hanes introduced legislation to establish the school, Copey and other volunteers organized a phone bank that raised $850,000. Her efforts secured Winston-Salem as the future home of the then School of the Arts.

Copey also worked tirelessly to launch Old Salem Museum and Gardens, the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, and her ongoing support of classical music and the Winston-Salem Symphony is legendary. In 1967 she hosted the great Artur Rubenstein in a post-recital reception following his performance in Wait Chapel. And in 2007 for her 90th birthday Copey brought pianist Van Cliburn to perform with the orchestra.

Former UNCSA chancellor Alex Ewing said in a recent statement “Copey Hanes, no matter who she was with or what she was doing, was always herself: warm, friendly, interested,” Those qualities certainly came across during our 2012 conversation here at WFDD, and I would add funny to that list as well. She was joined in the studio by acclaimed keyboardist, composer and longtime Salem College professor of music Margaret Sandresky. In 2011 Margaret celebrated her 90th birthday. The two shared a decades- old friendship dating back to Copey’s arrival to the Salem Academy and College campus in 1940 to teach voice and drama. They had plenty of stories to share with David Ford as well.

That was Copey Hanes, and keyboardist, composer and Salem College professor of music Margaret Sandresky. They recorded that interview in May of 2012.

Copey Hanes passed away in December 2013 at the age of 96, and her legacy lives on with the Winston-Salem Symphony. Music Director Robert Moody will begin the symphony’s Spring season with concerts dedicated to Copey on Saturday, February 8th, Sunday, the 9th , and Tuesday, the 11th at the Stevens Center of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The program features internationally acclaimed pianist Orli Shaham, and one of Copey’s favorite works: Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. She had asked Maestro Moody to organize a concert around the concerto and—to make the performance possible—she helped fund the guest artist’s appearance. 

Maestro Moody recently said of Copey: “Her legacy is without peer. It is an honor and a privilege to play this concert in her memory, particularly because she was so instrumental in making it happen. I know we will all feel her presence at these concerts.” 

A “Music Lovers’ Luncheon,” a fun and informative pre-concert lunch with Maestro Moody and guest artist Orli Shaham will take place on Friday, February 7th, at noon at The Piedmont Club in downtown Winston-Salem, and you’ll find links to more information at wfdd.org and click on TAW.


Jia String Quartet


UNCSA is one of the strongest art schools in the country, and as mentioned during that last segment, it owes a great debt to Copey Hanes. In 1964, she helped raised the funds that secured its location right here in the Triad, and we all benefit from the hundreds of concerts, exhibits, screenings, dances, and public lectures that take place on campus each year. Last year, one of those outstanding UNCSA performance groups was the award-winning Jia String Quartet. They joined us Live in Studio A.

The Jia String Quartet is UNCSA student violinists Dustin Wilkes-Kim and Maura Shawn Scanlin, violist Amber Wang and cellist Sarah Huesman. Last year the talented quartet competed in and made the quarter finals of one of the world’s most prestigious student music competitions: the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. In order to make it to their competition destination at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, the students needed a helping hand from the community. To help spread the word about the Jia String Quartet fundraising concert, WFDD took a cue from the late, great Copey Hanes and invited the group to perform Live in Studio A.

That will likely be the last time you hear the group as the graduating seniors have moved on. Amber is continuing her studies at the Cleveland Institute, and Maura Shawn was recently flown in for a UNCSA donor event at the Biltmore from her now home at the New England Conservatory. Rising seniors Dustin and Sarah are in the midst of their search for continuing studies. Dustin recently performed at Carnegie Hall.

Arts for Life

Now, it’s an up close and personal look at Arts for Life. They’re bringing art and music to children and their families battling serious illness. A dynamic group of professional musicians recently took a group of poems written by the Arts for Life kids,  and transformed them into more than a dozen compelling tracks on a fantastic CD: My Life is Bold! 


Behind the Scenes with Dale Pollock 

UNCSA School of Filmmaking faculty, author, and critic Dale Pollock takes us "behind the scenes".  His new fascinating Movie A Day blog is back! He says he watches at least one movie every day and later writesabout it.  Click here to link to these mini-essays on aspects of the film that capture Dale's imagination.  

The Modern Scribe: John Stevens

Winston-Salem based John Stevens is an internationally renowned letter artist.  Hiswork can be seen everywhere from book covers and libraries to branding images, magazines, even on guitar necks. He has worked with clients such as Atlantic Records, Lucasfilm, and Pepsi, among many others.

John occasionally teaches at the Calligraphy Centre in Winston-Salem and the Cheerio Calligraphy Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains – where calligraphers from around the world come to study with renowned instructors.  John’s new book is titled Scribe: Artist of the Written Word and is published by John Neal Books in Greensboro.  The 264-page book is filled with color images of John’s work throughout his career and insightfully discusses both the craft and expression in letterforming.  

Check out John's recent work (inspired by Kurt Schwitters)  which was featured as part of the Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery exhibit Letterforming:


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