Donor Spotlight: Richie Hawley

Two people ride bikes.

Richie Hawley, left, rides with cycling legend Davis Phinney in the Sunflower Revolution. Photo by Mark Bowen.

Since its founding in 1998, the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute has been privileged to receive gifts of all sizes, from five dollars to more than five million. But few gifts have brought as much sheer enjoyment as those provided by Richie Hawley, the acclaimed Principal Clarinetist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

Richie, who is regarded as one of the finest clarinet players in the world, has shared his remarkable talent in short recitals at three special UCNI events: the Sunflower Encore Musicale at the home of Melody Sawyer Richardson in 2005; the Sunflower Ride ‘n Dine at the Queen City Club in 2008; and this year’s UCNI 10th Anniversary Celebration at the CARE-Crawley Building on UC’s medical campus.

Richie has chosen to support the UCNI research effort because of his special interest in Parkinson’s disease and his personal connection to UC, where he heads up the clarinet faculty. Richie is also committed to sharing classical music with new audiences. (To read about his recent experience with a classroom of 9-year-olds during the CSO’s Japan Tour ’09, please visit )

The son of a ballet dancer (his mother) and a doctor who played the clarinet, Richie began studying at the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, his hometown, at the age of 9. He soloed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at 13 and the New York Philharmonic at 14, and he eventually studied at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. After a short stint with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, Richie was appointed Principal Clarinetist of the CSO in 1994.

Richie has performed frequently with Cincinnati’s Linton Chamber Music series, and he has performed in chamber recitals throughout Asia. He received the Presidential Scholar in the Arts award from President Ronald Regan in a ceremony at the White House.

The summer season finds Mr. Hawley in Southern California, where he teaches and performs chamber music at the Music Academy of the West, a position he has held since 2006.

Beyond music, Richie is a superb athlete who enjoys surfing big waves and capturing other surfers on camera. Treading water with the help of flippers, and wearing a helmet to protect his head from wayward surfboards, he holds the camera aloft as a surfer barrels down toward him, then goes under with the wave. His scars bear testimony to the risk involved. His most frightening moment, which occurred in Fiji, involved swimming 20 minutes back to the boat, knowing that a “very unfriendly” 16-foot shark was in the vicinity. Richie also enjoys cycling and is a frequent participant in the Sunflower Revolution bike ride.

To follow Richie Hawley on Twitter, go to

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