Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


Retired Music Professor Ellsworth Peterson Receives Southwestern’s 2010 College Town Award

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    Ellsworth Peterson and President Jake B. Schrum at the presentation of the 2010 College Town Award. (Photo by Lucas Adams)

Annual Georgetown Festival of the Arts he created is now in its sixth year

Ellsworth Peterson, a retired music professor who created the Georgetown Festival of the Arts, was recognized Jan. 29 for his efforts to help make Georgetown seem like more like a college town.

Southwestern University presented Peterson with its fifth annual Martha Diaz Hurtado College Town Award during the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce annual banquet.

The award was created in 2006 to recognize citizens, organizations or businesses whose exemplary efforts have enhanced the “college town” environment for students, faculty and staff at Southwestern. Previous recipients of the award include the Williamson County Sun, the Downtown Georgetown Association, former mayor Gary Nelon and Chamber of Commerce President Mel Pendland, and Dr. Doug Benold.

Peterson grew up in Georgetown, attended Southwestern University, and returned to the university in 1965 to teach music after receiving a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Harvard. He held the Margarett Root Brown Chair in Fine Arts from 1965 until his retirement from full-time teaching in 2002.

After retiring from Southwestern, Peterson started the Georgetown Festival of the Arts as a way to give something back to his hometown. He also wanted to do something to bring people from Southwestern, Sun City, the Georgetown Independent School district and downtown together. The festival is now in its sixth year, and draws musicians and music scholars from around the world to Georgetown for a week of lectures and performances focusing on the work of one composer. Composers featured to date include Handel, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn and Dvořák. The 2010 festival will feature the work of Aaron Copeland.

“Ellsworth Peterson has had an enormous impact on Georgetown and on Southwestern University,” said Southwestern President Jake B. Schrum. “He inspired generations of Southwestern students as the Brown Chair holder in musicology, and his latest vision, the Georgetown Festival of the Arts, has taken the role of the arts in Georgetown to a new and unprecedented level. No one is more deserving of this award.”