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Celebrated pianists Andre Watts and Arnaldo Cohen to join IU School of Music faculty

Watts to fill new endowed chair position

Watts, Andre
André Watts will fill the Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music
Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- To put it musically, it's a perfect arrangement.

The Indiana University School of Music announced the appointments today (May 6) of two of the world's greatest living pianists, André Watts and Arnaldo Cohen, to its faculty. Watts will fill the newly created Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music. He and Cohen will begin teaching at the school in the fall.

The appointment of Watts was made possible by the university's Commitment to Excellence program, which is helping the School of Music through the addition of four eminent master teachers.

"This is an exceptional day, to say the least, for Indiana University, the School of Music and the city of Bloomington," said School of Music Dean Gwyn Richards. "The appointment of musicians of such outstanding caliber is a tribute to our school, our faculty and our reputation as a worldwide leader in music education and performance. We are delighted and honored that André and Arnaldo have chosen Bloomington as the place to continue their distinguished careers and look forward to them greatly enhancing the artistic lives of our students."

"I am absolutely delighted to welcome these two wonderful individuals," said Evelyne Brancart, chair of the Piano Department. "They are not only on top of the pianistic and musical world, but they are both great human beings."

"I'm delighted and flattered to join the great colleagues at Indiana University," Watts said.

Watts burst upon the music world in 1963 at the age of 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in its Young People's Concert, which was broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for an ailing Glenn Gould to perform music by Franz Liszt with the Philharmonic, thus launching Watts' career in storybook fashion.

More than 40 years later, Watts remains one of today's most celebrated and beloved pianists. In addition to giving sold-out recitals and performing with most of the world's great orchestras and conductors, he makes regular visits to the major summer music festivals, including Ravinia, Tanglewood, Saratoga, the Mann Music Center, Mostly Mozart and the Hollywood Bowl.

Watts has also made frequent television appearances, performing with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. His 1976 New York recital, which aired on the program Live from Lincoln Center, was the first full-length recital broadcast in the history of television, and his performance at the 38th Casals Festival in Puerto Rico was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Cultural Programming.

A much-honored artist who has played before royalty and heads of state all over the world, Watts was selected in 1988 to receive the Avery Fisher Prize, one of the top individual honors for an American classical musician. At age 26, he was the youngest person ever to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University, and he has received numerous such honors from many of the nation's most respected conservatories. In 1984, the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University honored Watts with its Distinguished Alumni Award. Watts has been an artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland since the 2000-01 season.

Watts' endowed chair was made possible by a gift from IU alums Jack and Dora Hamlin of Norfolk, Va. Jack Hamlin earned a degree in business from IU before going on to serve in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He and his wife met while they were students. A pianist and music lover, he performed in the Marching Hundred while at IU and was captain of his ROTC band unit.

Brazilian-born Arnaldo Cohen has been called one of the world's best-kept secrets, even though he has played in major concert halls throughout Europe and South America and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome. He has also performed under some of the world's greatest conductors, including Kurt Masur, Klaus Tennstedt, Kurt Sanderling, Edo de Waart and Yehudi Menuhin, who called Cohen "one of the greatest pianists I have ever heard."

Born to Persian and Russian immigrants in Brazil, Cohen was the first-prize winner of the 1972 Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy and later became a prominent figure in the European music world when he replaced legendary Argentinean pianist Martha Argerich at a concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Cohen made his triumphant New York debut during the 1996-97 season in a recital at the Frick Museum. He returned to New York the next season to perform a critically acclaimed recital at the Tisch Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to his solo appearances, he has performed in the Amadeus Piano Trio as well as with many string quartets, including the Lindsay Quartet, Chilingirian Quartet, Orlando Quartet and Vanbrugh Quartet.

In the 2002-03 season, Cohen made several other U.S. debuts, including performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra. He made his debut at the Casals Festival in January 2003. During the 2004-05 season he will appear with the Baltimore Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony and North Carolina Symphony.

Cohen's recent recordings have concentrated on the works of Liszt, Schumann and Brahms. His first recording for the Swedish record company BIS Records, Three Centuries of Brazilian Music, was released in 2001 to great acclaim.

Cohen has been a fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, and a professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

To arrange to speak with Watts or Cohen, contact Ryan Piurek, IU Media Relations, at 812-855-5393 or rpiurek [at] indiana [dot] edu (rpiurek@indiana.edu) .