Class: 1967Inducted: 2007
Robert Lee Watt studied at The New England Conservatory with Harry Shapiro of the Boston Symphony. Mr. Shapiro recognized a talent in Mr. Watt and drove him hard as a student, placing him music camps to further his studies during the summers, and gradually working the young hornist into professional freelance work in Boston. While still a student at the New England Conservatory, Mr. Watt was chosen to perform the Strauss Horn Concerto No. 1 with the Boston Pops under the direction of Arthur Fiedler. He was then asked to perform the same concerto with the New Jersey Symphony under the direction of Henry Lewis. As he progressed further, he began to play as a substitute hornist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf. He attended the Berkshire Music Festival at Tanglewood in 1969 before being hired as Assistant Principal horn of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under music director Zubin Mehta.
After taking his post in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mr. Watt continued to perform as a soloist. He developed a chamber music series at the prestigious "City Club on Bunker Hill". Mr. Watt has played for many motion picture studios and television shows. He performed in numerous pop record sessions, backing such stars as Bon Jovi, Isaac Hayes, and Stevie Wonder, and appeared in a Ray Charles video.
Mr. Watt also began speaking at local colleges and organizations in the African American community. In the late eighties, the hornist helped organize an African American Brass Quintet that performed throughout the United States and abroad. In 1989, he was invited to serve on the grant panel of the Chamber Music Division of the National Endowment of the Arts. Mr. Watt works with young people at Crenshaw High School, teaching those interested in learning French Horn and steering young students into thinking about attending college as music majors. A true renassaince man, he is a licensed airplane pilot with an instrument rating. He is a saber fencer and a published writer of magazine articles about other musicians.
Mr. Watt's most rewarding accomplishment has been to follow his dreams and his heart. His favorite quote is "Be who you are."