ARTRA presents Buddy Wachter, banjo virtuoso

Buddy Wachter, ARTRA artist and banjo virtuoso


Master of the four string banjo, the uniquely American instrument, Buddy Wachter is acknowledged to be America's greatest virtuoso banjo player. Andrew John "Buddy" Wachter was born on February 3, 1953 in Baltimore. After displaying a natural talent and love for music at an early age, he began studies on the mandolin at age nine and soon after, the guitar and banjo, as well. By the age of 13 he was performing regularly around Baltimore.

Buddy first gained national attention in 1969 when the Vega Banjo Company of Boston arranged for him to perform with the legendary banjoist Eddie Peabody in an exhibition called Banjo Spectacular at the Palladium in Hollywood.

At age 16, he auditioned for the Fred Waring Show and a month later he was offered a job. In 1970, he graduated a year early from high school and began his professional career as a featured performer with the famed Pennsylvanians. Over the next two years he logged nearly 500,000 miles while touring to hundreds of cities throughout North America.

Since then, Buddy's life has been a campaign to bring the four string banjo to the world's concert stages; and, he has done so with unprecedented virtuosity, playing more than 4000 performances to audiences in over 50 countries. Exploring a wide variety of musical styles from jazz to pop, as well as his own adaptations of virtuoso classical works, he commands the attention and respect of audiences, musicians and critics alike. He has appeared with Arthur Fiedler, Marvin Hamlisch, Richard Hayman, Erich Kunzel, Benny Goodman, Ferrante and Teischer, Teddy Wilson, Max Morath, Bob Hope, the Count Basie All-Stars, and Bela Fleck–his 5-string counterpart. He has also made numerous radio and television appearances including the David Frost Show, Larry King Live, Germany's NDR Talk Show and Good Morning, India.

In 1982, the German SR television network sponsored Buddy's first European tour which culminated in the taping of a television concert special: BUDDY LIVE. The program received wide acclaim by European critics and its popularity has taken Buddy back to Europe for regular concert tours and jazz festivals.

Since 1990 Buddy has performed and taught internationally as a musical ambassador under the auspices of the US Department of State. Combining music tours with a love for hiking and adventure travel, Buddy and his banjo have crossed the deserts, rafted the rivers, and hiked the mountain ranges of five continents– playing for tribal communities in the Andes, the Himalayas, on the Sahara, at the Antarctic Circle and deep in the Amazon basin. This has done much to unite the world banjo community and to introduce the instrument to some of the remotest parts of the world.

Buddy also appears regularly as a soloist with symphony orchestras. In May of 1992, he made his Carnegie Hall debut as guest soloist with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops. Highlights of recent symphonic appearances include the Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Baltimore, Hartford, Nevada, Billings, Buffalo, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Missoula and Cape Cod Symphony Orchestras, the Chicago Pops, and the National Orchestra of Venezuela.

Buddy has five solo recordings and appears on many others. He has published numerous articles and instructional materials for the banjo, and leads banjo clinics internationally. He has created a library of more than thirty works for banjo and orchestra through new transcriptions, arrangements and original compositions.

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