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Hot Springs: Garth Newel Music Center names 30-year music veteran as new executive director

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After a national search, the Garth Newel Music Center (GNMC) Board of Directors has appointed Steve Wogaman as its new executive director.

Wogaman, who officially joins GNMC this month, is both a seasoned leader of chamber music and symphony organizations and a professional pianist. He was the GNMC board and staff’s unanimous first choice for the position among a field of highly qualified candidates.

“I first visited Garth Newel in 2022. And I was immediately struck by what an amazing place it is. It is a place of refuge and renewal for all five senses: mountain wind on the skin, exquisite natural beauty, invigorating clean air, exceptional food, and glorious musical sounds. The totality of the experience is incredibly moving. I can’t think of a better context to experience the world’s greatest music,” Wogaman said.

Wogaman has served for 30 years as a chief executive with small- to mid-sized musical organizations. For the past 13 years, he was president of Chamber Music Detroit (formerly the Chamber Music Society of Detroit), where he continues to serve remotely as its artistic director and president. He has also served as chief executive of Canton Symphony Orchestra and the Allentown Symphony Orchestra and its historic Symphony Hall. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he developed the CameraMusic webcasting platform and collaborated with more than 70 peer organizations across North America while reaching an audience of more than 200,000 listeners worldwide.

“Steve is a wonderful leader in the chamber music field, both as presenter and a practitioner. Because his perspective and insight are so valuable, he is someone I depend on for thought partnership,” Kevin Kwan Loucks, chief executive officer of Chamber Music America, said.

Wogaman trained at the Eastman School of Music, the University of Louisville, and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where he completed a Doctor of Music degree in piano performance under the Beaux Arts Trio’s founding pianist, Menahem Pressler. His dissertation project resulted in the founding of a music outreach organization that reached more than 1 million students in 80 rural Kentucky counties.

As a performer, Wogaman has been a prizewinner and finalist in several national piano and chamber music competitions. He has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the eastern and midwestern United States, as well as in Spain and Central America. In the 1980s and 1990s, he was founding pianist of the Whitney Trio, which played frequently in his native Washington D.C., including performances at the National Gallery of Art, Phillips Collection and Alexandria Lyceum.

Board Chair Gene Sullivan said the entire organization is excited.

“Steve is a perfect fit for Garth Newel. He has energy, passion, and a gift for connecting with people. His expertise, enthusiasm, and extensive connections within the national chamber music community are exactly what Garth Newel needs. We look forward to working with him for years to come,” Sullivan said.

In Hot Springs, GNMC’s location is on a serene century-old estate which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1973, GNMC is Virginia’s only year-round chamber music venue and presents more than 50 concerts, cooking classes and other events. Programs include the Allegheny Mountain String Project, Emerging Artist Fellowship Program, Music in the Schools, an annual Amateur Chamber Music Retreat and an international composition competition.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.