Wadsworth and Friends concert

Thu, 03/26/2009 - 3:19pm
By: The Citizen

Wadsworth and friends

Newnan’s native son and world-famous pianist Charles Wadsworth will return to Newnan to perform in concert at his namesake Charles Wadsworth Municipal Auditorium on Saturday, March 28. at 7:30 p.m. Wadsworth will once again be joined by a group of highly talented musicians as they present the much anticipated “Charles Wadsworth & Friends” concert.

Wadsworth grew up in Newnan and became an accomplished pianist at an early age and, by age 13, was filling in as the substitute pianist and organist at local churches. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from famed Julliard School and moved to New York in 1952 to begin his professional career. In New York, he founded the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in 1969, leading it as Artistic Director and pianist for twenty years and bringing chamber music the unprecedented popularity that it enjoys today. His innovative programming and the varied repertoire he unearthed have inspired a new generation of virtuoso musicians to perform chamber music, fostering the creation of chamber music festivals worldwide. Since l977, Wadsworth has been one of the Artistic Directors of the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is pianist and host of the daily chamber music concerts. Similar concerts were created in 1960 at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

 Wadsworth has been honored by the Republic of France as a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters and by Italy as a Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Order of Merit. He has received New York City’s highest cultural award the Handel Medallion, in addition to South Carolina’s Order of the Palmetto and most recently, the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award. He holds honorary doctorates from the University of South Carolina, Converse College, and Connecticut College and has been invited to perform at the White House for Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan.

This year’s Charles Wadsworth & Friends concert takes on special significance as it serves as a celebration of acclaimed pianist and musician Charles Wadsworth’s 80th birthday. This year also marks a turning point in Wadsworth’s career as he approaches an octogenarian status and looks forward to a less rigorous schedule.

“I’ve been involved in the Festival in Spoleto, Italy, for 50 years now and in the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston for well over 30 years. I’ve enjoyed touring, but it’s involved traveling from one city to another, often without a break, and much of it has been international traveling for extended periods,” Wadsworth stated. Having recently returned from an extensive and highly successful series of concerts in South America with several audiences that numbered in the thousands, Wadsworth said, “I’m giving it up!”

After his recent decision to discontinue extensive touring and drastically diminish his performance demands, many of Wadsworth’s concerts have become “Farewell” events. For Wadsworth, there are doors to be closed and doors to be opened. A few of the doors being opened involve spending more time composing music and lecturing to students. His diminished concert schedule may include single concerts requiring minimal travel. One door that will be left ajar relates to Newnan and Coweta County. “My concerts in Newnan and all the people there have always been special to me, and as long as I’m able, I’ll want to keep that door open,” said Wadsworth. He continued and said, “This year’s concert in Newnan is special to me in an additional way. Not only because it nearly coincides with my birthday, but also because my wife Susan, my two daughters, my grandchildren, and several other relatives will join me for the occasion.”

Charles Wadsworth has been returning to Newnan with his Charles Wadsworth & Friends Concerts since 1990. Originally sponsored by a group of local citizens and, more recently, by the City of Newnan’s Cultural Arts Commission, the concert has generated funds used to restore the city’s auditorium named after Wadsworth in 1998. With the strong support of the Newnan City Council and a large number of loyal patrons, the restoration of the auditorium was completed in 2008.

Two outstanding artists who have previously performed in Newnan with Charles Wadsworth in his Wadsworth & Friends concerts will return to the Wadsworth Auditorium and once again entertain the audience with their superb talents.

Courtenay Budd's lustrous soprano voice has been praised as "a voice for connoisseurs" and has been heard with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the National Symphony, and repeatedly at Carnegie Hall, Spoleto USA, and the Grand Teton and Bard Music Festivals. The recipient of a 2001 Sullivan Award, Ms. Budd won First Prize in the 2001 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, leading to acclaimed recital debuts at Washington, DC's Kennedy Center, Boston's Gardner Museum, and New York's 92nd Street Y. Her previous performances at the Wadsworth Auditorium with Charles Wadsworth have delighted her hometown audiences.

Budd's own CD “Sleep is Behind the Door: Lullabies for Disaster Relief” was named "Lullaby Album of the year" by CDBaby.com. Featuring several prominent artists including Sylvia McNair, the CD benefits survivors of natural disasters. She also appears on the VMS recording Korngold's Hollywood Songbook with baritone Steven Kimbrough and pianist Dalton Baldwin.

Budd, a Newnan native and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Budd, is a graduate of Newnan High School and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. She also holds a masters degree from Westminster Choir College and now resides in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and two children.

Violinist Chee-Yun's Chee-Yun's first public performance at age eight took place in her native Seoul after she won the Grand Prize of the Korean Times Competition. At 13 she came to the United States and was invited to perform with the New York Philharmonic. Two years later, she appeared at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Since then, Chee-Yun has performed regularly with the world's foremost orchestras, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the London Philharmonic, and the Toronto, Houston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and National symphony orchestras. She frequently appears on stages and in concert halls throughout the world including England, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Russia, and more. Her flawless technique, dazzling tone, and compelling artistry have enraptured audiences on five continents.

Chee-Yun has been heard frequently on National Public Radio's Performance Today and has also been featured on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion", on Public Radio International and numerous syndicated and radio programs across the United States and abroad.

Charming, charismatic, and deeply passionate about her art, Chee-Yun continues to carve a unique place for herself in the ever-evolving world of classical music and made her a favorite with Coweta County audiences who have consistently requested her return to the Wadsworth & Friends concerts.

Also performing at the concert is flutist Angela Jones-Reus, who has performed extensively as orchestral musician, soloist, and chamber musician throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and South America, and can be heard on a great many classical music recordings. In 2008 she was invited to perform as Principal Flutist with the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra and will return to this prestigious festival again this summer. Angela Jones-Reus is a graduate of The Juilliard School (Master of Music, 1986) and the North Carolina School of the Arts (Bachelor of Music, 1985), and was the sole winner of the Fulbright Scholarship to Italy in music in 1987. Previously  residing in Europe, Angela Jones-Reus is currently Professor of Flute at the University of Georgia (since 2000) and is internationally active as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher.

 Cellist Edward Arron is a native of Cincinnati who began his studies on the cello at age seven. He grew up in New York, is a graduate of the Julliard School, and is rapidly gaining recognition worldwide for his elegant musicianship, impassioned performances, and creative programming. Arron made his New York recital debut in 2000 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Earlier that year, he performed Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos with Yo-Yo Ma and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at the Opening Night Gala of the Caramoor International Festival. Since that time, he has appeared in recital, as a soloist with orchestra, and as a chamber musician throughout the U.S, Europe, and Asia.

 Pianist Jeewon Park is rapidly garnering the attention of audiences for her dazzling technique, poetic lyricism, and artistic versatility. A native of Korea, she made her debut at the age of 12 with the Korean Symphony Orchestra. After having won numerous major honors in Korea, she moved to the United States in 2002, continued with her musical education, and earned degrees from The Juilliard School and Yale University. Ms. Park has delighted concert audiences in her frequent appearances throughout the U.S. and internationally. She most recently recorded an album of chamber works, which was released in the fall of 2008. She has been heard in live broadcasts on National Public Radio and New York's classical radio station, WQXR. Additionally, her performances have been nationally broadcast throughout Korea. She lives in New York City with her husband, cellist Edward Arron, with whom she has performed regularly in concert since 2001.

Tickets for the 7:30 pm event will be available at Scott’s Bookstore in Newnan, Morgan’s Jewelry in Ashley Park, and the Bank of Coweta at Thomas Crossroads. General seating adult tickets are $20 and senior/student tickets are $15.

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