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Rebecca Penneys (Piano)

Born: October 2, 1946 - Los Angeles, California, USA

The American pianist and music pedagogue, Rebbeca Penneys, was born in Los Angeles. Her mother, Rose Kaplan Penneys (1912-2010), worked for social causes, and her father, Alexander Penneys (1912-1994), was a radiologist. Sol Kaplan, her uncle, was a pianist-conductor-composer, and her cousin, Boris Gorelick, was an artist. Raised as a prodigy, Penneys grew up in Los Angeles studying piano from the age of 3, and dance from the age of 5. Her primary mentors in California were Carmelita Maracci, dance, Victoria Front and Aube Tzerko, piano, and Leonard Stein, composition. She performed her first solo piano recital at the age of 9 and performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 11. Other mentors were Rosina Lhévinne and Artur Rubinstein.

Rebecca Penneys attended Beverly Hills High School and continued her formal education at Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, studying piano with Gyogry Sebok and Menahem Pressler, chamber music with Janos Starker and Josef Gingold, and composition with Iannis Xenakis. She graduated from Indiana University with Artist's Diploma in 1972. At 17, after winning many young artist competitions in the USA, she was awarded the unprecedented Special Critics' Prize for her performances at the 7th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland (1965). Critics there described her as a genius of the piano. Subsequently, she won the Most Outstanding Musician Prize at the 5th Vianna Da Motta International Piano Competition in Portugal (1970) and was Top Prize-winner in the 2nd Paloma O'Shea International Piano Competition in Spain (1975).

In 1972, Rebecca Penneys made her New York debut at Alice Tully Hall. The same year she was appointed to the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Other New York City appearances at 92nd St. "Y", Merken Hall, Carnegie Hall; Library of Congress followed from 1972. Rebecca concertizes in the USA, East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, Israel, and Canada. She made a USIS State Department solo tour of Japan in 1980. She is a popular guest artist, keynote speaker, and teacher at national and international music conventions. Her artistry and deeply poetic insight have won her a large and loyal following. In 2002, she officially became an exclusive Steinway Artist and has performed many concerts for Steinway & Sons since then. Rebecca's playing leaves an indelible impression.

In 1974, Rebecca Penneys founded the acclaimed New Arts Trio at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (with Carol Sindell, violin and Paul Cheifetz Hamilton, cello). The Trio won the Naumburg Award for Chamber Music in 1980 (with Piotr Janowski, violin and Steven Doane, cello) and also in 1982. As of 2010 the members of the New Arts Trio are Jacques Israelievitch, violin and Arie Lipsky, cello. The Trio has been Trio-in-Residence at the Chautauqua Institution since 1978 and has made two United States Information Agency Cultural State Department tours of Europe in 1985 and 1987. Fanfare Magazine praised the recent New Arts Trio CD from Chautauqua as the most interesting and exciting disc of piano trios, or any chamber music, or any classical music the reviewer ever heard.

Combining a busy concert schedule with seminars and master-classes worldwide, Rebecca Penneys teaches a large class of international students at Eastman and Chautauqua. Her students are successful professionals on every continent. Rshe has been Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music since 1980 and Chair of the Chautauqua Institution Piano Department since 1985. A resident artist at the Chautauqua Festival since 1978, she celebrated her 25th anniversary season by performing L.v. Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra in 2003. In 2001, she was appointed Visiting Artist at St. Petersburg College, Florida. The October 2001 issue of Clavier magazine features an interesting interview with her.

In the last few years, Rebecca Penneys has appeared worldwide in a variety of venues. Her interest in holistic therapies has led to numerous Sound-Color recitals exploring the connections between the sensory system and sound, color and music. She was keynote speaker, performer and teacher at North Carolina Music Teachers Association Conventions in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Fayetteville, the Pennsylvania Music Teacher's Convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as well as Guest Teacher at the Tel Hai International Music Festival, Israel. She was also featured artist-teacher on the Pabst Theater Series, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and performed and taught in California, Ohio, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New York City area, Ontario and Quebec. She gave recitals and master-classes at such schools as Roosevelt Musical College, New England Conservatory, Longy School, Grinnell College, Skidmore College, Heidelberg College, Tarleton State University, Oberlin Conservatory, Pittsburg State University, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. She was guest artist at the American Liszt Society Convention, the University of Iowa's Distinguished Artist Series, and the Artist Series at L'Elegance in Sarasota, Florida. The New Arts trio performed at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Gainesville and now performs annually in Toronto at Temple Sinai.

Other concerts and master-classes took her to Australia, South Korea, Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Bali. Some of Rebecca's career highlights included performing and teaching in Colombia, South America where she was also the American judge for the 1st Yamaha International Piano Competition in Medellin. She also gave master-classes in South Korean universities and was Artist Teacher at Seoul National University. In Canada she performed at the Montreal Festival, the Gardner Museum and on the Guelph Chamber Music Series. She was Artist-in-Residence for a week in Missoula, where she was soloist with the Missoula Symphony, gave a solo recital on the University of Montana's Artist Series, and a lecture recital for the President's Lecture Series. She spent another week in Washington State giving recitals and master classes for the Seattle Music Teachers Association, Central Washington University and the University of Puget Sound. In Florida, Rebecca performed and gave seminars in Gainesville at the Phillips Arts Center, in St. Petersburg, at the Music Center, St. Petersburg College, and in Sarasota at David Cohen Hall and Florida West Coast Symphony Hall.

Rebecca Penneys received a return invitation to the Liszt Society Convention, to appear as Guest Pedagogue in Gainesville, Florida where she gave a Lecture and Masterclass on the teaching of Artur Schnabel. She was also Guest Pedagogue at the Music Teachers National Association National Convention in Salt lake City, Utah. There, she gave a master-class on 4-hand piano music. Recital and masterclass combinations were presented at Memphis State University, Rocky Mountain College, Billings, Montana, St. Petersburg College, Florida, and the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto. Recent master-classes in Florida include Miami University, Lynn University Conservatory of Music, Boca Raton, and the University of South Florida in Tampa and the University of Florida, Gainesville. She gave a seminar for the Central Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association in State College, Pennsylvania.

This season includes several trips to California with invitations to perform and teach. Some highlights include the San Jose Steinway Society at Le Petit Trianon, the San Jose Music Teachers Association of California, and the San Jose Bay Area Steinway Society. Other master classes are at San Francisco Sherman Clay Pianos and Santa Clara Sherman Clay Pianos. Rebecca performed in the newly launched Mammoth Lakes Festival, Mammoth Lakes, Ca, and gave recitals and masterclasses at Humboldt State College, Arcata, and at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa. In Los Angeles, she gave a lecture recital using Vladimir Horowitz' piano at Fields Music Company in Los Angeles, and she gave master-classes there as well as the Colburn School. Rebecca performed in recital at the Music Center at St. Petersburg College, gave a lecture recital for Florida Music Teacher Association, and will give a special lecture-recital on "Olympia", the famous Chihuly Steinway, at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts. She will be touring California and Florida again next season with new invitations and return engagements.

Rebecca Penneys is a champion of new music and gives world premieres frequently. In Rochester, New York she recently gave the world premiere of a work written for her by the Italian composer, Lorenzo Palomo at the Rochester Academy of Medicine In Rochester. She appeared as soloist with the Greater Rochester Women's Philharmonic, in a benefit concert for abused women. Rebecca performs a tremendous amount of chamber music and appears regularly with the New Arts Trio, the Rochester Chamber Music Society, Chautauqua Chamber Music Society, Roycroft Festival and Salon Concerts at the Rochester Academy of Medicine. She performs in Rochester during the academic year and at the Chautauqua Festival during the summer.

As a pedagogue, Rebecca Penneys has received extensive recognition in academic and medical circles for her ability to teach an approach to keyboard technique (Motion and Emotion) that allows pianists to achieve individual performance goals without physical strain or injury. For 18 consecutive years, she conducted Motion and Emotion summer seminars at Eastman and at other institutions. The first seminar, 1993, consisted of a discussion and performance of the complete Frédéric Chopin's Etudes. In 1994, the focus changed to Tension, Attention and Intention. The 1995 and 1996 seminars continued this theme and emphasized Pathways to Better Learning, Practicing, Performing and Teaching. The topic for 1997 became the Aural History of Piano Sound. Subsequent seminars, A Portrait of Chopin (1998) and The Flexible Pianist (1999), explored solo and chamber/collaborative learning, and rehearsal and performance techniques.

At the Chautauqua Festival in upstate New York, Rebecca Penneys has created an extremely popular summer program that is a mix of traditional and innovative classes designed to augment standard academic education. It is unique in the world of piano instruction. Chautauqua Piano is dedicated to widening perspectives on performing and learning and strives to understand and encourage the uniqueness of each student's talents and career goals. An annual four-day residential Pedagogy Workshop for teachers (Pedagogy As Art & Craft) inaugurated in August 2004 is part of the exhilarating piano events that conclude each season's activities.

Rebecca enjoys the success of her students. They are flourishing professionals on every continent. A few have won top prizes in prestigious international competitions. All are professionally employed and most hold academic teaching and performing positions in major music schools.

Rebecca's recent National Public Radio appearances include: an interview with Brenda Tremblay for WXXI radio about her All Brahms CD; an appearance on the "Infinite Mind" about her teaching techniques; featured guest on "Chautauqua Edition", a program that takes a fresh look at issues of influence and value in the arts. Her PBS television program for the "Musical Encounters" series, "The Piano: Its Sounds and Moods" continues to be shown frequently on national TV. She was guest editor of a special summer issue of Seminars in Neurology (June 1989), a publication devoted to music and medicine. An article she wrote for Clavier entitled "Motion and Emotion" appeared in their September 1992 issue. In 1994, she co-authored a book with Dr. Raymond Gottlieb entitled, "The Fundamentals of Flow in Learning Music". The October 2001 issue of Clavier features an interview with Rebecca.

As adjudicator, Rebecca Penneys' activities have included the Yamaha International Piano Competition in South America, Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, the Stravinsky Awards in Illinois on two separate occasions, the American judge at the Vianna Da Motta International Piano Competition in Macao and judging for various Music Teacher National Association chapters.

Rebecca Penneys’ nine current CD's on Fleur De Son Classics and Centaur Records are eloquent testimonies of a major artist of intelligence, originality, massive technique and bravura temperament. Her solo solo CD's include: The Voice of the Piano (1992) on the Centaur label includes W.A. Mozart's Sonata K. 545, Felix Mendelssohn 3 Songs Without Words, Schubert Impromptus Op. 90 and Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue. The Complete F. Chopin's Etudes (1993) Op. 10 and 25 plus the 3 Op. posth. Etudes are also on the Centaur label. The other CD's are on the Fleur de Son Classics label. They are All Brahms (1998), a disc that includes the ten Hungarian Dances arranged by Johannes Brahms for two hands, Op. 10 Ballads and Op. 116 Fantasies; Recital Gems From Chautauqua (2002), with Béla Bartók 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs, W.A. Mozart's Sonata K. 330, F. Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie and 3 Mazurkas, Debussy Suite Bergamasque, Balcolm and Albright Rags, and two Robert Schumann-Franz Liszt transcriptions; An Eastman Recital (2003) with performances of F. Chopin's 1st Ballade, Grieg 6 Lyric Pieces, Debussy Images Book I, W.A. Mozart's Sonata K. 331 and F. Liszt Valee d' Obermann; Music of the Dance (2003) that features Ravel Valses Nobles, F. Chopin 2 Mazurkas & 2 Waltzes, J.S. Bach's French Suite No. 5, L.v. Beethoven's 6 Ecossaies, Schubert 6 Landler and Turina Danses Gitanes, Op. 55, and Rebecca Penneys and Steinway (2004) with F. Chopin's Barcarolle and Nocturne Op. 32 no. 2, L.v. Beethoven's Andante Favori, Camille Saint-Saëns/Siloti The Swan, F. Liszt 3rd Concert Etude, Galuppi Sonata in C Major, Zoltán Kodály Dances of Marosszek, and Gershwin/Wild Four Virtuoso Etudes. Rebecca has written very personal and interesting liner notes for all the CD's.

The New Arts Trio has three CD's on the Fleur De Son label: the complete Arensky Trios, L.v. Beethoven's Arrangements for Piano Trio - the 2nd Symphony & the Septet and New Arts Trio in Recital at Chautauqua, which includes the L.v. Beethoven "Ghost" trio, J. Brahms Op. 8, Bloch 3 Nocturnes, and Piazzolla Tango. Other Penneys recordings are available on the CBS-Sony, Pantheon, Orion labels, and the Society for Chamber Music, Rochester, New York, and The Rochester Academy of Medicine Centennial Trio Concert. Audiences everywhere are drawn to Rebecca's keen musical intelligence, effortless technique, and seemingly endless imagination.

Source: Rebecca Penneys Website; Wikipedia Website (January 2011); ESchool of Music Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2011)

Rebecca Penneys: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Concert Pianist, Piano Teacher, Master Classes - Rebecca Penneys (Official Website)
Rebecca Penneys (Eastman School of Music)

Rebecca Penneys (Wikipedia)
Rebecca Penneys, Piano teacher - New York (Piano Teachers)

Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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