Internationally acclaimed pianist Althea Waites has concertized extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Asia as a brilliant soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative artist. In addition to performances on concert stages around the world, she has also participated in numerous festivals as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and ensemble coach, including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Yale Summer Festival at Norfolk, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Idyllwild Arts Festival in Southern California and as guest artist for the National Arts Festival at Makhanda on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Praised by the Los Angeles Times for “superb technique and profound musicality,” Ms. Waites has a long and distinguished history of championing new music by American composers and has received several honors and commendations for her work. She has also been guest soloist for National Public Radio’s Performance Today, KQED in San Francisco, KCET/Los Angeles, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Geneva Conservatory of Music in Switzerland, Wigmore Hall in London, Merkin Hall in New York City, concerts for the UC/ San Diego World Music program in Indonesia, Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to name a few.
Her recording credits include Black Diamonds, a landmark CD of music by African-American composers as well as the premiere recording of Florence Price’s 1932 Sonata in E Minor, Along the Western Shore and Celebration, a 2012 recording featuring new music by American composers. This CD also includes works which have been written for and dedicated to Ms. Waites in celebration of 60 years as concert artist and teacher.
Ms. Waites holds degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana and the Master of Music degree in Piano from the Yale School of Music where she studied with Donald Currier. Previous teachers and mentors include Alice Shapiro, a protégé of Rosina Lhevinne, Russell Sherman and Sister Mary Elise Sisson.
Previous teaching positions and affiliations include California State University/Long Beach for the Cole Conservatory of Music and collaborative work with pianist Mark Uranker as the Orpheus Duo in performances of music from the traditional repertoire and new music for two pianos.
Ms. Waites is in demand for masterclasses, lectures, workshops, recitals and residencies at colleges and arts institutions throughout the United States, and her commitment to community service is evident through her work with many outreach programs in retirement homes, hospitals, churches, missions and any place where music can be used as a tool for peace and the elimination of racial and political division.
Althea Waites is a Yamaha artist and her recordings are now incorporated on her new label, Kuumba Music.
Awards and Honors
2023: Leonard Stein Resident Artist for PianoSpheres/ 2023-24
2020: Pioneer Award for outstanding service as a concert artist and teacher of music; presented by the Black Faculty Association of California State University/ San Bernardino
2017: Ovation Award presented by the Standard Bank of South Africa for excellence in performing four recitals of music by American composers. Standard Bank is the major sponsoring organization for the National Arts Festival which is presented in June and July at Makhanda on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
1993: Brody Arts Fellowship, California Community Foundation/ Los Angeles
1991: National Association of Composers/ USA
1990: Min-On Cultural Award, Soka Gakkai International Society
1988: Los Angeles Sentinel Woman of the Year
1987: Brody Arts Fellowship, California Community Foundation/ Los Angeles
1986: League of Allied Arts Fellowship, International Congress of Women in Music
1977: National Organization for Women