About Dr. Sennet
Dr. Rochelle Sennet has established herself as a well-known performer, teacher, and scholar. Her recital programs showcase her versatility at the keyboard, with frequent performances of works by J.S. Bach and Black composers such as H. Leslie Adams, Jeffrey Mumford, James Lee III, and Pulitzer-Prize winning composer George Walker. She was co-winner for the Krannert Center Debut Artist Competition, national finalist at the MTNA Steinway & Sons Young Artist piano competition, and a prize winner in numerous competitions such as the Kingsville International Piano competition, San Antonio Tuesday Musical Club Piano Competition, and the US Open Music Piano Concerto Competition.
Her latest 3-Disc recording, “Bach to Black: Suites for Piano, Volume III” was released on Albany Records in February 2024, and includes the complete French Suites and French Overture of J.S. Bach, and seven suites by Black composers: Margaret Bonds, Betty Jackson King, Nkeiru Okoye, Montague Ring, William Grant Still, James Lee III, and Adolphus Hailstork. She previously released “Bach to Black: Suites for Piano, Volume II” in October 2022, a 3-disc set, which includes the complete Partitas of J.S. Bach, and six additional suites by Black composers: George Walker, Florence Price, Joyce Solomon Moorman, Montague Ring, Harry Burleigh, and Ulysses Kay. Volume I of “Bach to Black,” also a 3-Disc recording, was released in 2021, and includes the complete English Suites of J.S. Bach, and six additional suites by five Black composers: S. Coleridge-Taylor, N. Dett, H. Adams, F. Tillis, and J. Mumford; she earned a Gold Medal from Global Music Awards for her album.
Her previous recording, entitled “Alkebulan’s Son: The Solo Piano works of James Lee III,” was released in 2014 on Albany Records, and received rave reviews in American Record Guide. Her duo’s debut recording, “Duo MemDi: The Debut” was released in 2018 on Albany Records. In 2012, her recording of George Walker’s Piano Concerto was also released on the Albany Records label, and she was the first pianist to record this difficult work since Natalie Hinderas in 1976. She is also featured on this recording, performing on Walker’s triple concerto, Da Camera. George Walker himself praised her performance of his music. She also recorded eighteenth-century composer Leopold Kozeluch’s second piano concerto and three harpsichord sonatas for four-hands with the Classical Chamber Players, which was released on the Mark Records label during the summer of 2013.
Her recordings have regularly been featured on radio stations and programs nationwide and internationally such as BBC Radio, WQXR, WFMT, WILL, WXXI Classical, as well as “Sunday Baroque” and “Bach and Beyoncé with Maria Ellis.” Recent performances include solo appearances at Live from WFMT-Chicago, California State University at Northridge’s Symposium on the Piano Music of Black Composers, Four Seasons Arts in Oakland California, Nizhny Novgorod State Conservatory, where she gave the international debut of James Lee’s Piano Sonata No. 1, Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She performed Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto with the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra in Michigan, which was broadcast live on WBLV-Blue Lake Public Radio. She also recently gave the world premiere of James Lee III’s Concerto for Piano and Winds with the Morgan State University Symphonic Band in Baltimore, Maryland. She has also made guest appearances as a soloist with ensembles such as University Philharmonia Orchestra in Michigan, the Sewanee Festival Orchestra in Tennessee, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra. As an accomplished chamber music performer, she was a co-founder of Duo MemDi, a piano-violin duo established in 2010 on the principles of diversity and performing works by memory, a rarity in the field of chamber music. Recent Duo MemDi performances have included appearances at the Tashkent State Conservatory, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie, Salisbury University in Maryland, and numerous outreach events throughout the United States.
As a committed scholar and educator, she has presented frequent guest lectures, is an advocate for outreach performances, and is in demand as an adjudicator at piano competitions. She has presented lecture-recitals at the Music Teachers National Association Conference, National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, American Musicological Society Conference, College Music Society National Conference, the College Music Society Great Lakes Regional Conference in Dayton, Ohio, and the Illinois State Music Teachers Conference. Other appearances include solo recitals as well as being invited as masterclass clinician at the Tashkent State Conservatory in Uzbekistan, University of New Mexico at Las Cruces, Flint Institute of Music in Michigan, and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee. As an adjudicator, she was invited to judge competitions such as the Society for Arts and Letters National Piano Competition, Sejong Music Society Piano Competition, Zelpha Wells Piano Competition in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Walgreens Concerto Competition in Highland Park, Illinois. As an administrator, she currently serves as Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the College of Fine and Applied Arts. She is also a 2023-2024 Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project, and she has published in articles in Newsweek and The Fulcrum.
Dr. Rochelle Sennet is a Voting Member of the Recording Academy, and she is a Yamaha Artist.
Classical music should not be limited to the conventional, but should embrace both the new and old. I believe that musicians should experiment with their recital programs to reach a wider audience. I encourage my students to explore a wide variety of stylistic periods, including works that are not frequently performed. The possibilities of music are endless and my hope is that my students come away from our time together with a stronger means of communicating their ideas. I also encourage students to find their own voice through attention to an increased self-confidence and enjoyment of music-making. Often, I will offer several solutions to playing passages to aid in expanding their musical palette. I advocate the performing of chamber music to widen their perspective. Next, I promote the importance of technical and musical mastery, as well as full-body awareness. Through this awareness, my students are able to eliminate piano-playing injuries that have become all too common in our field. Above all, I believe that performance, scholarship, and pedagogy can be combined. The understanding of common pianistic challenges as well as an awareness of stylistic traits will only serve to enhance performance. In addition, increased conversations about underrepresented composers will lead musicians to explore new research ideas about embracing standard and unconventional repertoire.
- BM (piano performance), San Francisco Conservatory of Music
- MM (piano performance), University of Michigan
- Artist Diploma (piano performance), Texas Christian University
- DMA (piano), University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Research and publications
Select Commercial Recordings:
"Higher Ed Must Support DEIA Efforts Effectively." Newsweek, January 2, 2024.
"Misread Intentions are not an excuse for racist statements." The Fulcrum, December 22, 2023.