Warner Named to CSU’s New Hamer Distinguished Chair in Cello

Wendy Warner

COLUMBUS, Ga. —Wendy Warner, an internationally acclaimed faculty artist in the Columbus State University’s Schwob School of Music, has been selected as CSU’s first Leah D. Hamer Distinguished Chair in Cello.

Columbus residents Leah D. Hamer and her son, George S. Hamer III, both major supporters of the Schwob school and CSU’s golf program, created the endowment that established the faculty chair.

Leah D. Hamer, a Columbus native, is the daughter of the late Richard and Leah DesPortes. A graduate of Columbus High School and Sullins College in Bristol, Va., she’s a past member of the Columbus Junior League. She’s the widow of George S. Hamer Jr. 

"This transformational gift from Leah and George Hamer establishes the seventh endowed faculty chair in the Schwob School of Music, and we accept it with our deepest gratitude,” said Rex Whiddon, director of development for CSU’s College of the Arts. “Their generosity is indicative of the support from the private sector that has elevated the Schwob school to a level of pre-eminence, not just among its regional peers, but as one of the leading music schools in the nation."

Warner is widely considered one of the world’s leading contemporary cellists. As juror Frans Helmerson told the New York Times when Warner won first prize at the Fourth International Rostropovich Competition in Paris in 1990, “she’s unbelievable.” 

A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, Warner is on faculty at CSU, Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts and the Music Institute of Chicago.

She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Symphony Hall in Boston, Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Paris’ Salle Pleyel concert hall and Berlin’s Philharmonie concert hall. She has performed with the London Symphony, Berlin Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Iceland Symphony, L’Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, and L’Orchestre de Paris, with which she performed Brahms’ Double Concerto with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and Semyon Bychkov conducting. Warner has played with the European Soloists of Luxembourg at Frankfurt’s Alter Oper and the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. She has toured Japan as a soloist with NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Japan Philharmonic.  

Additionally, Warner has collaborated with such leading conductors as the late Mstislav Rostropovich, Vladimir Spivakov, Christoph Eschenbach, André Previn, Jesús López-Cobos, Carlos Miguel Prieto, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, Marin Alsop, Charles Dutoit, Eiji Oue, Neeme Järvi and Michael Tilson Thomas.

Recently, Warner made her debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, performing unknown works by Beethoven, which she recorded as part of the Beethoven Project trio.

The child of professional musicians and the granddaughter of composer Philip Warner, she began studying piano at age 4 and cello at age 6. At 14, she made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. At 18, she began studying with cellist-conductor Mstislav Rostropovich at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Philadelphia conservatory from which she graduated in 1993.

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Photo: Wendy Warner (high-resolution original)