Elizabeth Sobol and Paloma Garcia-Lee to speak at UNCSA opening ceremonies in May

Two illustrious alumni who have made tremendous strides behind the scenes, on stage and on screen will speak at the 56th commencement ceremony of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) , announced Chancellor Brian Cole.

Elizabeth Sobol (BM ’81)President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) since 2016, will address undergraduate and graduate students at the opening of the university at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7. She was previously president and CEO of Universal Music Classics and general manager of IMG Artists. in North/South America.

Elizabeth Sobol

Paloma Garcia-Lee (HS Drama ’08), an actress/dancer/singer who has become known for her outstanding performances on the Broadway stage, will address high school through early high school students at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 14. She can be seen as Graziella in Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning film “West Side Story,” available now on Disney+ and HBO Max. She appeared in six Broadway shows, including “Moulin Rouge: The Musical,” which won a Tony for Best Musical, and the FX series “Fosse/Verdon.”

Paloma Garcia-Lee

Paloma Garcia-Lee

Chancellor Cole will preside over both ceremonies, which will be held at the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

“We are thrilled to have such famous and successful women speaking to our 2022 graduates,” Cole said. “They are exemplary role models who will resonate with all of our students for what they have accomplished and continue to accomplish through their innate talent and UNCSA education.

“Elizabeth Sobol has decades of experience in artist management and the recording industry in classical arts and mainstream entertainment,” Cole continued. “At SPAC, she expanded programming, educational offerings and the physical campus, as well as cultural, community and business partnerships.

“Paloma Garcia-Lee is the versatile ‘triple threat’ of stage and screen, who has captivated Broadway, television and film audiences with her charisma,” Cole said. “Her drive and determination led her to appear in five Broadway shows before she was 26, and her riveting role in ‘West Side Story’.

“I’m especially proud to recognize their entrepreneurial spirit in everything they’ve done,” Cole concluded. “Both are powerhouses in their own right, possessing the courage, collaborative spirit and imagination that we so value as creative artists.”

During her nearly six years as head of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, President and Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Sobol expanded its programming with new initiatives and year-round initiatives designed to appeal to a younger, more diverse audience: Live Sessions at Jazz Bar, CulinaryArts @ SPAC, SPAC on Stage. Under his leadership, SPAC’s education program grew from 5,000 to 50,000 people in the Capital Region and beyond. In 2021, SPAC opened a new SPAC School of Arts.

Sobol has spearheaded partnerships with cultural organizations such as Caffe Lena; The Tang Teaching Museum; Saratoga Shakespeare Company; and Opera Saratoga, in addition to businesses and community organizations, including New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce; Discover Saratoga; Skidmore College; and more. She also expanded PSPC’s physical campus with several major upgrades: a $10 million project to completely renovate the aging campus with new visitor facilities and year-round community and educational space; and the construction of a new, larger second pavilion stage. As part of Sobol’s vision to turn Spa State Park into a “park for the arts,” she led an $8 million project to revitalize one of the park’s historic bathhouses into a year-round art facility dedicated to performance, healing and cooking. arts.

Prior to joining SPAC, Sobol served as President and CEO of Universal Music Classics and General Manager of IMG Artists in North and South America. As Managing Director of IMG Artists North/South America (IMGA), she has managed artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Joshua Bell, Renée Fleming, Emerson String Quartet, James Galway, Hilary Hahn, Evgeny Kissin and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa . Sobol created the IMG Artists Dance division, which has become the most prestigious dance client list in the industry, representing the Bolshoi Ballet, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Pilobolus, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the Lyon Opera Ballet and Miami City Ballet, among others. Sobol also created and oversaw IMGA’s initiatives and growth in world music, jazz, contemporary music and music/dance theatre. She was co-producer of the off-Broadway production and international tour of “Jam of the Groove,” the first hip-hop musical, sponsored by Calvin Klein; a co-producer of Bill T. Jones’ groundbreaking production, “Still/Here”; a co-producer of the award-winning “Noise of Time,” a collaboration between the Emerson String Quartet and Simon McBurney/Complicité sur la vie de Shostakovich; and co-creator and co-producer of Miami Libre, a Cuban music and dance theater piece that ran for five sold-out weeks at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

As President and CEO of Universal Music Classics (UMC), Sobol successfully led the American home of prestigious brands Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Mercury Classics and ECM, as well as the revitalized UMC label, which she supervised from Universal’s headquarters in New York. His vision for the label included a commitment to what the “classics” best represent: music rooted in the classical tradition, while encompassing a variety of genres, including contemporary, jazz and world, and an emphasis on the US-based artists and repertoire that represented diverse genres. UMC’s unprecedented release schedule included artists as diverse and compelling as Andrea Bocelli, Renée Fleming, Rufus Wainwright, Itzhak Perlman, Hilary Hahn, Evgeny Kissin, Sting, Tori Amos, Keith Jarrett, Anoushka Shankar, Black Violin, Time for Three, Snarky Puppy and Hot Sardines. Shortly after joining UMC, Sobol led the company to No. 1 on Billboard’s Classical Traditional Label chart in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, Sobol served as an executive producer on numerous albums, three of which garnered Grammy nominations. .

Sobol studied at Sarah Lawrence College and the Rotterdam Conservatory. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Paloma Garcia-Lee is an established actress who rose to fame for her outstanding performances on the Broadway stage and is now making a remarkable leap into television and film. Dynamic, versatile and ambitious, Garcia-Lee has captured the essence of what it is to be a singular showwoman with her raw, authentic and captivating acting, dancing and singing.

Born to act, she was raised in a theatrical family and always knew she wanted a life on stage. Educated at home by her parents so she could pursue a career in the arts, she focused on laser at a young age and left home at 14 to attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. , where she completed her secondary education in three years. Enrolling in dance school to study ballet, she is one of the few students in the school’s history to have changed majors along the way, graduating from drama school. While at UNCSA, she starred as Graziella in the school production of “West Side Story” directed by Gerald Freedman.

Garcia-Lee moved to New York at the age of 17 and immediately began to attract industry attention, making her Broadway debut as Meg Giry in “The Phantom of the Opera.” She has now been seen in six Broadway shows, including “On the Town,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Moulin Rouge: The Musical,” which won a Tony for Best Musical. She has over 15 other stage credits to her credit and has been involved in the creation and development of over a dozen others.

Garcia-Lee made her transition to the screen by appearing as Adrienne in several episodes of the acclaimed FX series “Fosse/Verdon.”

Subsequently, she made a meteoric debut in her first major Hollywood feature, again playing the role of Graziella in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” which received six Academy Award nominations and one Academy Award. Critics called her “a joy to watch”, “an incredibly dynamic character full of empathy” and “an undeniable rising star”.

Contact Media Relations(opens in a new tab)(opens in a new tab)(opens in a new tab)(opens in a new tab)

Get the best news, performances, and stories from UNCSA alumni.

James C. Tibbs