Photo: Anne Richardson (center) age 7 at a Gheens chamber music soirée
Written by Jeffrey Jamner, Senior Director, Education & Community Arts, Kentucky Performing Arts
In February, cellist Anne Richardson returned to her hometown of Louisville from her studies at the Juilliard School to perform on the stage of Kentucky Performing Arts' Whitney Hall as this year's soloist with the Louisville Orchestra in the 2019 Gheens Great Expectations concert. Performing as a Gheens Artist was coming full circle for Anne: she grew up being inspired by world-class young artists in the Gheens Great Expectations program. You might say that “growing up Gheens” was an important part of her artistic journey.
The entire classical music community in Louisville has known about the astonishing talent of Anne Richardson since she was in elementary school. By the time she was nine, she could play a single phrase with such unique and penetrating soulfulness that it could take your breath away. I first heard her when she was seven. She performed in a trio in a chamber music soirée where she encountered our very first Gheens Artist, pianist Euntaek Kim from South Korea. She sat on the floor just a few feet in front of Euntaek as he performed Shostakovich Trio with two talented young musicians from Louisville. Click here to see a KET Profile on Euntaek as our first Gheens Artist.
The Gheens Great Expectations program presents world-class young musicians on our stages and in our community. Its goals are twofold: to inspire our youth with artistic role models, and to help launch Gheens Artists’ careers with high profile performances and customized community residencies. Throughout her childhood, Anne has heard Gheens Artists, such as Mihai Marica, Jinjoo Cho, Caroline Goulding, and Conrad Tao, all of whom have gone on to have very distinguished international careers as performers.
Unlike many young artist concert series, Kentucky Performing Arts' Gheens Great Expectations program features extensive community residencies that include performances in schools, workshops in community centers, and opportunities for local young musicians to perform with Gheens Artists as members of the Louisville Youth Orchestra or in chamber music soirées. As a teenager, Anne was coached by and performed with several Gheens Artists, some of whom also offered helpful career advice. She later encountered them in New York and at the Aspen Music Festival.
Photo: Anne Richardson (cello) mentoring students during her Gheens residency
In the same room where Anne played in our first Gheens chamber soiree fifteen years ago, I recently witnessed her coaching, rehearsing and performing as a Gheens Artist herself with two very talented high school students. After so many years of seeing her at the receiving end of Gheens residencies, it was moving to see Anne step so comfortably into the role of mentor.
Anne’s Gheens residency also included performances at Lincoln Performing Arts School and Western Middle School for the Arts, and it concluded with her joining her first cello teacher, Wayne Krigger, in an entirely new experience for her. Wayne Krigger has been one of Kentucky Performing Arts’ longtime artists in our Arts in Healing program. He has shared his music with hundreds of patients receiving chemotherapy at the UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Arts in Healing Director Kristen Hughes captured a special moment in this short video filmed as they played together for patients at the Brown Cancer Center. The beauty of their music and the joy they exuded in playing together was uplifting to everyone in the hospital unit.
Photo: Kristen Hughes, Anne Richardson, Wayne Krigger at Brown Cancer Center
Following the Arts in Healing component of her residency, Anne shared the following with me: “Playing at the Brown Cancer Center was an incredibly special experience. Playing with my very first teacher, Wayne Krigger added to the meaningfulness created by communicating warmth through the cello."
With generous support from the Gheens Foundation, Kentucky Performing Arts has been able to come full circle with an amazing local talent who “grew up Gheens.” This is just one of the many stories of how Kentucky Performing Arts impacts lives through the arts both on and beyond our stages.