Friends of Wadsworth Concerts

Local singer Budd set to return



If you grew up in Newnan during the 1980s, you may remember an aspiring young visual artist named Becky Budd.

A lot has changed since then.

“What I did back then was mostly drawing,” said Budd, who now performs as an opera soprano by her given name – Courtenay.

Budd will headline the April 26 “Friends of Wadsworth Concert - The Legacy Continues,” being sponsored by the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission at Newnan’s Wadsworth Auditorium.

“I know back then I was known more for the visual arts, and I haven’t left the visual arts forever. I do want to get back to it,” she said.

These days, Budd is better known as a soprano, a first prize winner of Young Concert Artists Auditions, who has been heard with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the National Symphony, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and repeatedly at Carnegie Hall, Spoleto USA, and the Grand Teton and Bard Music Festivals.

“I sang my first solo at age 7 for the local Rotary Club when I was at The Heritage School,” she said. “That and singing in church kind of gave me my start.”

Still, she said, by the time she went to Sewanee: The University of the South and graduate school at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey she “had some catching up to do.” She found inspiration working under Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt at Westminster.

“The way he viewed music and a lot of things about life – it really caught me,” Budd said.

All along the way, people would tell Budd she really needed to meet Charles Wadsworth, since they were both from Newnan, but they never crossed paths.

At a performance in Long Island, Wadsworth “saw how I could connect with an audience,” Budd said, “and I think he started to take notice. So he had me sing at a concert in Newnan and he invited me on a tour.”

Scheduled to join Budd in concert later this month at the Wadsworth Auditorium are some familiar faces to Newnan audiences: violinist Chee-Yun, cellist Edward Arron, clarinetist Todd Palmer and pianists Jeewon Park and Andrew Armstrong.

The concert will again include an educational component. Musicians will lead Master Classes with local students at the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts. Once again, the Master Classes will be sponsored by the Newnan Rotary Club and Cargill.

“The Cultural Arts commission has been working diligently to make this year's concert an event not to be missed,” said Kim Wright, chair of the event for the cultural arts commission.

The concert has sold out for the past four years, so make sure to get tickets early, event organizers said. General admission tickets for “Friends of Wadsworth – The Legacy Continues” are $20 and available at Let Them Eat Toffee on the downtown Court Square, the downtown Visitors Center in the historic Coweta County Courthouse, Morgan's Jewelers in Ashley Park, and Bank of North Georgia at Thomas Crossroads.

The other visiting artists include:

Edward Arron: A prodigy cellist who began playing at age 9 at home in Cincinnati and moved to New York at 10 to further his study.

In 2009, Arron took over for Charles Wadsworth as the artistic director, host and resident performer of the Musical Masterworks concert series in Old Lyme, Conn., and a concert series in Beaufort and Columbia, SC.

In the spring of 2013, Arron completed a 10-year residency as the artistic director of the acclaimed Metropolitan Museum Artists in Concert. The chamber music series was created in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Museum’s prestigious Concerts and Lectures series.

Chee-Yun: A native of Seoul, South Korea, Chee-Yun has become a world-renowned violinist and educator. Since coming to the United States at 13, Chee-Yun has won numerous awards.

Chee-Yun performed in a live broadcast at Spivey Hall in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympic Games and performed the theme for ESPN’s X-Games. In 2009, she appeared on the popular HBO show “Curb Your Enthusiasm” starring Larry David, the creator of “Seinfeld.”

Chee-Yun’s musicianship has been praised all over the world, including The New York Times and Strings Magazine.

“This is a talented instrumentalist, with the kind of high-gloss tone that pulls sensuously at the listener's ear,” said The New York Times.

Strings Magazine said: “Chee-Yun has not only extraordinary talent, but the poise and natural self-confidence of a seasoned veteran and born performer. Her technique is brilliant and utterly secure, her tone like butter, smooth, rich and flawless.”

Todd Palmer: Clarinetist Todd Palmer has appeared as a recitalist and a lecturer at major performing arts centers and universities in 48 states. He is also an avid arranger and educator.

Palmer, a winner of the Young Concert Artist International Auditions, has appeared in the world premiere of composer Ricky Gordon’s theater work, “Orpheus and Euridice,” with coloratura Elizabeth Futral on Great Performers at Lincoln Center in 2005. Ghostlight Records recently released the work, considered a major contribution to the 20th century clarinet and song literature, featuring original artists for whom it was written.

He has participated for 13 years at Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, and is a member of the highly popular touring group Spoleto Chamber Music USA, whose work has been around the United States for 10 years and on annual NPR broadcasts.

Andrew Armstrong: Having performed more than 35 concertos and winner of more than 25 national and international first prizes, Andrew Armstrong has quickly built a lengthy resume as a renowned pianist.

He has performed solo recitals and appeared with orchestras in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, including performances at landmarks such as Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, and Warsaw's National Philharmonic.

Jeewon Park: Korean-born pianist Jeewon Park made her debut at 12 years old performing Chopin’s First Concerto with the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Since then, Park has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, 92nd Street Y, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kravis Center and Seoul Arts Center in Korea.

Now based out of New York, Park has maintained her success since coming to the United States in 2002. She graduated from Juilliard and Yale, where she was awarded the Dean Horatio Parker Prize, and has been on many live broadcasts, including NPR and New York’s Classical Radio Station.

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