About Rochelle 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,” was released on Albany Records on June 1, 2021, and includes the complete English Suites of J.S. Bach, as well as six suites by five Black composers: S. Coleridge-Taylor, F. Tillis, J. Mumford, H.L. Adams, and N. Dett. 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 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.
Recent performances include solo appearances at the American Musicological Society Conference, Four Seasons Arts in Oakland California, Nizhny Novgorod State Conservatory and Balakirev Music College in Russia, 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, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 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. She also performed Etude Fantasy by Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano at University of Illinois concert, in which the composer was in attendance and praised her performance. 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 recently presented lecture recitals at the American Musicological Society Conference, College Music Society National Conference, 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 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. Dr. Rochelle Sennet 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