Concert fundraiser to feature A.W. Duo

The acclaimed classical music duo of Alyona Aksyonova and James Waldo will be featured in a Monday, March 24, concert at Western Carolina University to benefit United Christian Ministries of Jackson County and the WCU Honors College’s student study abroad fund.

Known as the A.W. Duo, the husband-and-wife team will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the recital hall of WCU’s Coulter Building. Tickets are $5 for students and $15 for all others.

Aksyonova, a pianist from Russia, and Waldo, an American cellist, met and began playing together while attending graduate studies at Mannes College in New York City. Based in Manhattan, the duo is beginning its second season of professional engagements this spring, including performances at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C.; the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival; and appearances in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Ellen Dressler Moryl, founder and artistic director emeritus of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, has called the A.W. Duo “exciting…ravishing…divine.” “These gifted young players are true artists who can transport the listeners in their audience straight to heaven,” she said.

The program for the concert will include works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Ayumi Okada, Alexander Scriabin, Chandler Carter and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Funding for the A.W. Duo’s appearance at WCU is being provided by two members of the Honors College’s Advisory Board from Highlands, Dr. Mark Whitehead and his wife, Kathy Whitehead, said Brian Railsback, dean of the college.

“This opportunity provided to us by both the Whiteheads and the A.W. Duo allows us to serve members of our community through United Christian Ministries and the students of the Honors College through one great evening of music,” Railsback said. “I hope to see an audience of students, faculty, staff and community members coming together for two important causes. WCU and the community achieve so much working together like this.”

Railsback said he is proud of the Honors College student board of directors, who could have planned the event as just a fundraiser for the student study abroad fund, but instead chose to include their community partner, United Christian Ministries.

Prior to the March 24 performance, Aksyonova and Waldo will present a workshop focusing on the business aspects of their artistic lives at 4 p.m. in the Catamount Room of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. The workshop is open to everyone.

A reception will be held following the evening concert.

Tickets will be available in advance and at the door. For advance tickets, contact Bonnie Beam in WCU’s Honors College office at 828-227-7383 or

The A.W. Duo will be featured in a fundraising concert Monday, March 24, at WCU.

The A.W. Duo will be featured in a fundraising concert Monday, March 24, at WCU.