Athens, Ga. – Internationally acclaimed pianist and one-time University of Georgia student Charles Wadsworth will return to campus on March 29 to host a special concert as part of celebrations surrounding his 80th birthday.
“Charles Wadsworth and Friends” will be held in the Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall on Sunday, March 29, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The concert is open free to the public.
Wadsworth, founder of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, will perform with UGA faculty member Angela Jones-Reus, flute; Chee-Yun, violin; Edward Arron, cello; Courtenay Budd, soprano; and Jeewon Park, piano. The concert will include works by Bach, Saint-Saens, Brahms, Weber, Rachmaninoff and Wadsworth.
“The program is an exciting and entertaining collection of various works and movements from larger works, performed in a relaxed atmosphere by relaxed artists,” said Wadsworth. “The pieces are intended to reflect my musical journeys and experiences over the past 80 years.”
Wadsworth studied for eight years with Hugh Hodgson, the founder and first director of what is now the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at UGA and part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Hodgson and Despy Karlas, a retired music school faculty member and also his teacher at UGA, encouraged Wadsworth to attend the Julliard School of Music in New York City, and this led to his lifelong career as an international champion of chamber music performances.
Following his performance in Athens, he will travel the next day to Charleston to begin his fiftieth and final year as chamber music director for the Piccolo Spoleto Arts Festival.
A native of Newnan, Ga., Wadsworth has performed all over the world. He is married to Susan Wadsworth, a Vassar graduate and founder of Young Concert Artists, Inc. They reside in New York City and have been married for 50 years.
In September 2005, Wadsworth spoke at the dedication ceremony for the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.This was followed by fulfilling his expressed desire to perform at UGA, which was accomplished at the tenth anniversary celebration of the Performing and Visual Arts Complex in 2006.
Wadsworth has been acclaimed both as a pianist and as the creator of chamber music events worldwide. He first drew international attention in 1960 at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, where he originated the Festival’s famed Midday Concerts (Concerti di Mezzogiorno). In 1977, he started the chamber concert series of the Spoleto USA Festival in Charleston, S.C., which he continues to direct, perform as pianist and introduce as its acclaimed host.
In 1969, he organized and performed in the opening concerts of Alice Tully Hall. As founding artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, he then led 20 seasons of concerts.
He commissioned 65 new chamber works from such celebrated composers as Pierre Boulez, Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein as well as young composers. He presented in his concerts such artists as Beverly Sills, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and André Watts, and brought to public attention such then-new artists as Kathleen Battle, Richard Goode, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, Pinchas Zukerman and Jessye Norman.
The wealth and variety of repertoire he unearthed and the success of his programming have inspired new generations of artists to perform chamber music and fostered the creation of chamber music festivals and organizations throughout the United States and around the world. For these achievements, he has been honored by the French government as a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters and by Italy as a Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Order of Merit.
In 1996, for the Olympics in Atlanta, Wadsworth created a concert in which Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Lynn Harrell and Frederica Von Stade performed along with other notable artists.
He is artistic director of the Musical Masterworks series in Old Lyme, Conn., and chamber concert series in Beaufort, Columbia, Hilton Head and Camden, S.C. He plays regularly from coast to coast with his “Spoleto USA Chamber Music” group and “Charles Wadsworth and Friends” programs.
In June 2001, he inaugurated the musical component of a new multi-arts festival at Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris, sponsored by the French American Center for the Arts.
Wadsworth has been honored by New York with the Handel Medallion, the city’s highest cultural award, and honorary doctorates from the University of South Carolina, Converse College and Connecticut College. He has performed for Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan at the White House. The City of Newnan, Ga., recently honored him by renovating and renaming the art deco municipal auditorium, the Charles Wadsworth Auditorium, in which he has presented concerts annually since 1990.