Pace relishes new role at Jefferson Center

Musician and educator Cyrus Pace '98 is wearing another new hat these days. After many years as a performer and music educator and three years as the fine arts coordinator for Roanoke City Schools, Pace assumed the executive directorship of the Jefferson Center in Roanoke last October.

Pace is now responsible for overseeing operations and generating support so that the Center can continue to be a home for the nonprofit organizations located in its restored and renovated building.

Best known for its high-quality cultural events and its Shaftman Performance Hall, a facility modeled after a 17th century English opera house, the Jefferson Center also is home to 15 nonprofit arts, educational and human services organizations. Pace ensures that programs such as the Downtown Music Lab, which provides music business, technology and performance opportunities to secondary school students, have the resources they need.

This summer, one of Pace's own mentors, Rodney Jones, will head up the center's Jazz Institute, a music camp for 14- to 22-year-olds. Jones is a well-known guitarist and the professor of jazz studies at Juilliard Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music. Pace earned his master's degree in Music from Manhattan in 2001.

As much as he enjoys making music himself-and he's gained quite a reputation for his guitar talents-Pace is relishing his current role.

"Roanoke is a great place for anyone who wants to do something meaningful," says Pace, a Salem native who returned to the Roanoke Valley from New York several years ago. "Fulfillment for me is about playing the role I have been given in the most sincere way possible, regardless of the location. It just so happens that Roanoke is experiencing a huge amount of cultural momentum."

Pace, a sociology major, says that his Roanoke College education helped him see the bigger picture.  It "encouraged me to think of the breadth of life rather than the minute details of a specific field. I am 100 percent biased towards liberal arts education and worry for those who don't have that same experience."

To support the Jefferson Center activities, Pace launched a campaign called "Can Cyrus Do It?" His goal is to find 1,000 people to donate $100 a year for three years. For information, go to



Released: July 8, 2011