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Christopher Davis Rex

February 1, 1951 March 22, 2022
Christopher Davis Rex
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Obituary for Christopher Davis Rex

Christopher Davis Rex was born February 1, 1951 in Winter Park Florida to Charles Gordon Rex and Betty McCauslin Rex. He passed away on March 22, 2022.

Christopher began cello lessons at age 8 with his father as his teacher. He left home at age 15 to live with a great-aunt and uncle in Gettysburg, PA. Every Saturday during high school, he would take the bus four hours each way to Philadelphia to study cello with Orlando Cole. Initially, he was told that he had no chance of winning an audition for The Curtis Institute of Music. After a year, however, he was told to audition and won a scholarship to Curtis, where he continued his studies with Orlando Cole. After graduation, he attended Julliard School of Music to study with Leonard Rose. Approximately one year later, there was an opening in the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy. Chris won that section cello audition and became the youngest member in the Orchestra. Seven years later, in 1979, he became the Principal Cellist of The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. The same year, he became the first cellist ever to win the string prize in the biennial Young Artist competition of the National Federation of Music Clubs. He was the soloist for the major cello concertos during his tenure. Chris retired from the Atlanta Symphony in 2018. His farewell performance can be viewed online at https://www.facebook.com/atlantasymphony/videos/christopher-rex-farewell-chamber-recital/10156288270634015/.

Over the course of his career, Chris has taught cello at Gettysburg College, The New School of Music in Philadelphia, Georgia State University, Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina, and The McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in Macon. He was the principal cellist with the New York Philharmonic on its 1988 European Tour. He performed with The Grand Teton Music Festival, The Colorado Music Festival in Boulder and regularly with the Highlands Music Festival in North Carolina. Chris was a founding member of the Georgian Chamber Players and had his last concert in December 2021. A documentary about Chris and his brother Charles regarding their upbringing and musical careers was released in 2016. It is entitled Concerto and won Best Documentary 2017.

In 2001, Chris created the highly acclaimed Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival, where he served as both artistic and general director for over two decades, until his death. Guest musicians include Yo Yo Ma, Andre Watts, Itzhak Perlman, Hillary Hahn, Lynn Harrell, Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman, Midori, Winton Marsalis, Renee Fleming, The Dover Quarter, David and Julie Coucheron, James Dunham, Zuill Bailey, Andres and Roberto Dias, and countless others.

Chris met his wife, Dr. Martha Wilkins, in 1979 when one of her friends was flirting with him from the third row of the audience. They began dating and were married six years later. Chris would often say that Martha, who is an anesthesiologist, and he both put people to sleep. He is survived by Martha and his two children, Caroline Bethea and Christopher Austell, along with his brother Charles (Lis), sister Cathy, sister-in-law Tay Wilkins (Jim Moyer), sister-in-law Craig Wilkins, brother-in-law Sam Wilkins (Melissa Murphy) and several nieces and nephews. Last, but not least, he is survived by his beloved cats, Sophie and Zeeza.

Chris was buried in his beloved Amelia Island under beautiful live oak trees with hanging moss following a small ceremony at the Chapel at the Amelia Island Plantation. There will be a musical celebration on April 23, 2022 at 11:00 AM at Trinity Presbyterian Church on Howell Mill Road, Joanna Adams presiding.

In lieu of flowers, if desired, please make contributions to the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival.

Previous Events

Service

Saturday

23

Apr

11:00 AM 4/23/2022 11:00:00 AM
Trinity Presbyterian Church

Howell Mill Road
Amelia Island, FL 32034

Trinity Presbyterian Church
Howell Mill Road Amelia Island 32034 FL
United States
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