Dean, University of North Carolina School of the Arts
Brian Cole is an experienced and innovative leader in the arts and education, which can be seen through his work as both an executive in higher education and an orchestral and operatic conductor. In August of 2016 he became the Dean of the School of Music at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he leads high school, undergraduate and graduate programs in music at the only publicly-funded full arts university in the United States.
From 2012-2016, Brian served as the founding Dean of Berklee’s Valencia Campus, where he was the academic leader of the College’s first international campus and oversaw the launch and implementation of Berklee’s first master’s programs. During his tenure, he supervised the extension of the range of master programs to include a forth program in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation, launched in 2013. He also further consolidated and expanded the college’s Summer Programs, as well as the Berklee Study Abroad Program for undergraduate students from Berklee’s Boston campus, and other partner institutions, to spend a semester at the Valencia campus.
Prior to his appointment with Berklee, Mr. Cole served for eight years as Associate Dean of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, supervising graduate and undergraduate performance programs in classical, jazz and Caribbean music. During his tenure, he led a substantial curricular expansion to include the first graduate performance degrees in Classical Performance, Jazz and Caribbean Music Performance, Orchestral and Choral conducting to be offered in the Caribbean. He was one of the founding executives for Puerto Rico’s new national system of youth orchestras and choruses – Música 100X35 – and worked in direct collaboration with the renowned Venezuelan institution FESNOJIV (El Sistema) in it’s creation and implementation. He is a passionate advocate of social action through arts and education.
Mr. Cole is a conductor with a wealth of experience in both the concert hall and the opera house, having led orchestras throughout the United States, Europe, South America and the Caribbean. He has a broad repertoire in instrumental, operatic and choral works and is particularly active in promoting new music.
From 2002-2004 Mr. Cole was Apprentice Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra where he worked closely with Music Director Paavo Järvi and numerous international guest conductors. He also assisted the famed Cincinnati Pops Orchestra under the direction of the late Erich Kunzel. During that time, he also served as an assistant conductor for the May Festival where he worked directly with Music Director James Colon, assisting with recording projects with the company TELARC and conducting selected rehearsals. During that period, he also served as Assistant Conductor and Director of Education and Outreach programs for the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. In 2004, he was appointed as Music Director of the Concert Orchestra of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he conducted concerts as well as opera productions with the CCM Opera Theater.
Equally at home in the theater, his opera credits include a variety of works such as Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Britten’s three chamber operas Albert Herring, The Rape of Lucretia and The Turn of the Screw, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Puccini’s La Bohéme, Menotti’s The Telephone and Amahl and the Night Visitors, Moore’s The Ballad of Baby Doe and Argento’s A Water Bird Talk.
He began his career as a bassoonist, under the tutelage of William Ludwig; however, is first instrument was the saxophone, which he continued to play over the years in jazz and fusion bands. His principal conducting teachers are Mark Gibson and Donald Schleicher, in addition to training with Paavo Järvi, Neeme Järvi, Jorma Panula, Robert Spano and Michael Butterman. He studied Louisiana State University, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.