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Pianist Rebecca Penneys to perform at Durango recital, teach master class

By Shauna Blaylock

Special to The PREVIEW

The Fort Lewis College Artists in Residence Committee has commissioned pianist Rebecca Penneys to give a master class (Nov. 14) and a recital (Nov. 13).

Penneys is a recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral soloist, educator and adjudicator. For over six decades, she has been hailed as a pianist of prodigious talent. Penneys has played throughout the U.S., East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe, the Middle East and Canada. She is a popular guest artist, keynote speaker and teacher, nationally and internationally, and as an exclusive Steinway Artist, she has given many concerts for Steinway & Sons.

Combining a busy concert schedule with seminars and master classes worldwide, Penneys teaches international students at Eastman School of Music and at the Chautauqua Music Festival. Her current and former students include prizewinners in international competitions, and hold important teaching posts on every continent.

Penneys made her recital debut at age 9, and performed as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra when she was 11. At 17, after winning many young artist competitions in the U.S., she was awarded the unprecedented Special Critics’ Prize at the Seventh International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, an award created in her honor. Additionally, she won the Most Outstanding Musician Prize at the Fifth Vianna Da Motta International Piano Competition (Portugal) and was top prizewinner in the Second Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition (Spain). She made her New York Debut in Alice Tully Hall in 1972. In 1974, she founded the acclaimed New Arts Trio, which twice won the prestigious Naumburg Award for Chamber Music (New York City). The trio has been trio-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institution since 1978. It has made two USIS Cultural State Department tours of Europe; Rebecca made a solo USIS State Department tour of Japan in 1980. Between 1974 and 2009, she made a minimum of two month-long trips abroad annually, performing and teaching in major cities of the world.

Currently, Penneys divides her time between New York and Florida. She is professor of piano at Eastman (since 1980) and chairwoman of the Chautauqua Institution Piano Department (since 1985). She is artist-in-residence at St. Petersburg College, a position created for her in 2001. In 2010, Penneys became co-founder and artistic chair of the Steinway Society of Tampa Bay and in 2011 became affiliated pianist for a Florida Orchestra Chamber Music Series. In Rochester, N.Y., she is founder-pianist (1999) of the Salon Chamber Music Series, a five-concert series at the Rochester Academy of Medicine and she is also founder and artistic director (2009) of a popular young artist series called Eastman Piano Series at the Summit.

Penneys’ teachers include Aube Tzerko, Leonard Stein, Rosina Lhevinne, Artur Rubinstein, Menahem Pressler, Gyorgy Sebok, Janos Starker, Josef Gingold and Iannis Xenakis. She has taught and performed in such summer festivals as Sitka, Marlboro, Eastern, Aspen, Vermont Mozart, Montreal, Tel Hai Israel, Shawnigan Johannesen, Peninsula, Roycroft, Mammoth Lakes, Eastern and Music Mountain. This summer is her 34th consecutive season at Chautauqua. Her latest CD, recorded in 2011, is a solo bicentennial tribute to Chopin and Schumann. Penneys has more than a dozen current CDs on Fleur De Son Classics and Centaur Records.

Last fall, Penneys was a judge for the weeklong Florida International Piano Competition in Orlando. She also taught and performed at the International Piano Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Florida Music Teacher’s Association Convention in Daytona Beach, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Music Teacher’s Convention, Texas A&M University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida and St. Petersburg College.

American Record Guide says: “Penneys offers an extraordinary collection of performances displaying an astonishing control over piano sound. It is absolutely gorgeous and full of unimaginable colors. She sings through the instrument, seemingly without effort. Her playing is simply revelatory.”

The Nov. 13 recital will be held at 7 p.m. in Roshong Hall at Fort Lewis College. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for students and children. Tickets can be purchased at www.durangoconcerts.com or by calling 247-7657.

The Nov. 14 master class is also at Roshong Hall, at 12:30 p.m. The master class is free for audience members. Both events are in Roshong Recital Hall and are open to the public.

This story was posted on October 16, 2012.