Virtuoso pianist in rare Whidbey appearance

"Andre Watts performs a concert at the South Whidbey High School auditorium on Sept. 12.Andrew Watts in ConcertTuesday, Sept. 12, 7:30 p.m.South Whidbey High School auditoriumTickets are $20, $35 and $45, available through the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, 221-8268Proceeds will support the ongoing programs of the Whidbey Island Waldorf SchoolSince his now legendary televised appearance at the age of 16 with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, Andre Watts has become one of today's most sought-after musical superstars. Next week, islanders will have the opportunity to see and hear this celebrated performer in person as he gives a benefit concert for the Whidbey Island Waldorf School.Watts will play at the South Whidbey High School auditorium on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The program will include works by Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin.And performing with him during part of the program will be the Waldorf School Choir, led by music director Jana McFee, in three pieces for chorus and piano.Watts has a connection to both Whidbey Island and the Waldorf School.I first played the Mozart piece in 1967 with Ralph Pyle in a wind quintet in Los Angeles, Watts said. The idea originally was to repeat that performance with Ralph, who lives on the island.Pyle was unavailable, however, and Watts' acquaintance with Ron Admiral, director of development at the Waldorf School, came into play. Admiral and his wife Deborah had developed a relationship with Watts through their experiences with Camp Hill Village, a special community for children and adults with disabilities. I'd played a number of concerts for Camp Hill, Watt said. Playing a concert for the Waldorf School felt a like a great idea to me, Watts said. Watts has been called by critics a formidable technical arsenal, and a pianist of thunderous power. He has made numerous guest appearances on PBS with Live from Lincoln Center, and played in the concert hall's 25th anniversary concert. He has performed with orchestras around the world and with musical greats such as Zubin Mehta and Eugene Ormandy and has played before royalty in Europe. He will perform in a special anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall at the end of this month.Many of Watts' concerts have been benefits, and he has taken a leadership role in his involvement with Classical Action: Performing Arts against AIDS, an organization which raises funds to benefit AIDS service, education and prevention programs nationwide. Proceeds from the Whidbey concert will support the programs of the Whidbey Island Waldorf School, currently with 125 students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. Some of the funds will be used for scholarships and some for operational needs. For more information on the school, call 341-5686 or visit "

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