Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs Welcomes It’s New Executive Director
Warm Springs, VA – Garth Newel Music Center in Hot Springs has a new Executive Director. Chris Williams came to Bath County from Washington, DC and started the job on January first.
“In September, when I saw the posting I just thought it sounded like a really great change,” says Williams. “After 19 years in DC I thought it was time to look about. I was not itching or in a hurry to run out of DC or to leave my house and my neighborhood and my friends. But it just seemed like the right fit. Truth be told, it was the first job application I had submitted in eight and a half years. I’m not a job hopper. It was just, it looked right.”
Williams is originally from Athens Georgia. He attended graduate school at George Washington University in Washington, DC and then worked in DC for the next twenty years as a music presenter, producer and programmer. But with all his experience, he found Garth Newel to be special, because it has a full time resident quartet.
“It may be unique in the country for an organization that’s this small in a place like Bath County to employ four full time musicians of this caliber,” says Williams. “You know, a lot of summer festivals, they’ll hire folks. They’ll hire musicians, they’ll come in for six weeks and they’re the resident ensemble. But these musicians are part of the community every day year round and that just struck me as really fascinating.”
Williams has worked with classical music, jazz, blues, gospel, rock and roll and R&B. He’s worked with folk festivals and other large gatherings. He worked eight and a half years at the Arlington County Cultural Affairs office, where he was the Cultural Heritage Program Manager. In that position he worked with about twenty six community organizations that produced public music programs.
He also worked very hard on a major undertaking – the creation of a brand new arts center. He oversaw the rehabilitation of a 62,000 square foot building that was turned into four concert venues and three art galleries. He developed the programming for the center and his year of twelve hour days, seven days a week were worth it, when the center opened to great reviews in the Washington papers.
“Well, I would like to see Garth Newel raise its profile outside of the Highlands region,” says Williams. “I was in New York at the Chamber Music America Conference and the conference attendees that knew about Garth Newel were in awe of what we do. So many of them didn’t know about us and when I told our story and said you know we’re in a community without a stop light, we’re in a community without a fast food restaurant. They were blown away by the fact that we could do that. So I would like to see that profile, I would like to see us generate more press in bigger markets so people know about us and learn about us and maybe come visit.”
You can learn more about Garth Newel Music Center on the web at garthnewel.org.