June 13, 2008
FORUM returns to the Lees-McRae stage for 29th season

The FORUM series of eight summer programs at Lees-McRae College begins June 17 with a performance by Manhattan Piano Trio, a trio gifted in chamber music, and concludes August 5 with the spectacular Synergy Brass Quintet.

FORUM is a membership/subscription organization that was founded in 1979 by Jean Williams, along with a small group of summer residents, with the intent to bring a stimulating series of cultural programs to the area.

With the help of Lees-McRae College, FORUM has grown by leaps and bounds and embarks on its twenty-ninth year of providing both cultural enrichment and wholesome entertainment.

"The key to FORUM's success is the dedicated involvement and cooperation between seasonal residents, local residents and Lees-McRae College," explains Sandy Ramsey, coordinator of the FORUM series for more than a decade.

Nearly 30 years after its inception, FORUM continues to be a vibrant part of the Avery County summer life. Though it started with only six patrons in 1979, it now includes a membership of more than 800.

"Our FORUM events are not only cultural and educational but social, as well," Ramsey said. "A patron-only social is held at the beginning of the FORUM series, June 10 this year. Patrons can enjoy the social contact of renewing friendships and making new ones during these events."

Members of FORUM have priority seating for all events and receive preferred parking passes entitling them to patrons-only parking in lots near Hayes Auditorium.

"We always invite those who feel they would enjoy the programs to become Patrons and support our efforts to bring these types of programs to the area," says Ramsey.

"The low cost of the FORUM membership, coupled with the great entertainment and the opportunity to be with friends, makes Hayes Auditorium on the Lees-McRae College campus the place to be on Tuesday nights during the summer. I look forward to seeing everyone there," Ramsey added.

In addition to the Manhattan Piano Trio and the Synergy Brass Quintet, the 2008 program series includes Russian pianist Konstantin Soukhovetski June 24; Speaker, journalist, and author Bonnie Angelo July 1; t he Western Piedmont Symphony July 8; vocalist Jennifer Fair July 15; classical music ensemble Quartetto Gelato July 22; the Massenkoff Russian Folk Festival July 29; and Synergy Brass Quintet August 5.

Additional information about membership in FORUM or its programs is available at or from Sandy Ramsey at the FORUM office in the Chaffee Building at Lees-McRae College. She can also be reached by email at or by telephone at 898-8748.

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