“Pianist Sarah Rothenberg has a unique career as performer, writer, institution builder, concert curator and creator of multidisciplinary performances uniting music, literature and visual art as concert theater. A pianist of “heart, intellect and fabulous technical resources” (Fanfare) and “power and introspection” (The New York Times), she has been a featured performer at Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Barbican Centre (London), The Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), Bard Summerscape, The 92nd Street Y, Library of Congress, Van Cliburn Foundation, The Getty Museum, Ojai Festival and concert series across the United States. She celebrated her 20th anniversary as Artistic Director of Da Camera Chamber Music and Jazz in Houston in the 2013-14 season, and has been General Director since 2011. Prior to her arrival at Da Camera Sarah Rothenberg was co-founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Bard Music Festival in New York.
Described as “a prolific and creative thinker” (The Wall Street Journal), Sarah Rothenberg’s most recent original production, A Proust Sonata, premiered on the Da Camera series in February, 2016. This new work of concert-theater explores the creative world of Marcel Proust’s literary masterpiece In Search of Lost Time and the music, paintings and people that inspired it. In the Garden of Dreams, connecting the music, art and ideas of fin-de-siècle Vienna, premiered at Da Camera to critical acclaim in 2013. The Blue Rider: Kandinsky and Music, commissioned by Works & Process at The Guggenheim for the Kandinsky retrospective in 2009, premiered to sold-out houses at New York’s Miller Theater of Columbia University. She has performed her Chopin-Baudelaire-Delacroix work, Epigraph for a Condemned Book, at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, University Musical Society of Ann Arbor, Krannert Center, La Jolla Music Society, Yale Repertory Theatre and Kravis Center for Performing Arts. Duo-piano performances with partner Marilyn Nonken include appearances at New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge, Baryshnikov Arts Center and Montclair Peak Performances following rave reviews here and abroad for their CD release of Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen (Bridge Records).
Sarah Rothenberg’s Music and the Literary Imagination series, produced by Da Camera and inspired by the writings of Proust, Mann, Kafka, Akhmatova and others was presented by Great Performers at Lincoln Center for five consecutive seasons to sold-out houses. Moondrunk, a staging of Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire with soprano Lucy Shelton and performance artist John Kelly, inaugurated Lincoln Center’s New Visions series in 1999. In addition to several projects with the Guggenheim, her work with art museums includes talks and curated performances for The Jewish Museum (New York), Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Menil Collection, and she has been featured on museum audioguide tours. Her artistic collaborations reach beyond the music world to include lighting designer Jennifer Tipton; actors Henry Stram, Fritz Weaver, Uta Hagen, André Gregory; American poet John Ashbery, Dutch author Cees Nooteboom and Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. Recent activities include over 60 performances as pianist of choreographer/director Martha Clarke’s Cheri, sharing the stage with renowned dancers Herman Cornejo and Alessandra Ferri, at New York’s off-Broadway Signature Theatre, Italy’s Ravenna Festival, Washington’s Kennedy Center and London’s Royal Opera House.
Committed to performing the music of our time and to the rediscovery of forgotten repertoire of the past, Sarah Rothenberg’s recordings for Bridge, Arabesque, GM, Koch and Naxos include the U.S. premiere recordings of Fanny Mendelssohn’s Das Jahr (Independent Record Companies Award for Best Solo Classical Recording 1996); Rediscovering the Russian Avant-Garde: Lourié, Mosolov and Roslavetz (GM); Shadows and Fragments: Piano Works of Brahms and Schoenberg; and works of Wuorinen, Carter, Perle, Ran, Tower, and Tsontakis, in collaboration with the composers. She has performed over 80 world premieres and was a member of the New York contemporary music ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, from 1985-94. Notable new music performances include the world premiere of Tobias Picker’s Piano Quintet in Houston; Charles Wuorinen’s Ashberyana in New York under the direction of Maestro James Levine; and the world premiere of Poul Ruders Romances with violist Hsin-Yun Huang, for which both artists received the Sam Sanders Collaborative Artist Award from the Classical Recording Foundation following the CD release and performance at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in 2013. Recent recordings include the Picker Quintet with the Brentano String Quartet on the Tzadik label and Da Camera’s Music for Rothko Chapel: Satie, Cage and Feldman on ECM. Under her leadership, Da Camera has been a three-time winner of Chamber Music America-ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award, was awarded the CMAcclaim Award, and received a Special Commendation for Outstanding Programming Concepts from Chamber Music America in 1999.
She has been a Senior Fellow at the New School’s Vera List Center for Art and Politics in New York, and visiting artist-in-residence at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at University of Houston, as well as at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Sarah Rothenberg’s writings appear in the literary journals The Threepenny Review, Brick, TriQuarterly and Conjunctions, as well as The Musical Quarterly, Nexus, Chamber Music, The Crisis of Criticism (ed. Berger/New Press) and Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings (London/Parrish Art Museum 2010). Sarah Rothenberg’s early training was at The Juilliard School with Herbert Stessin. After graduating from The Curtis Institute of Music, where her teachers were Seymour Lipkin and Mieczeslaw Horszowski, she studied the music of Olivier Messiaen with the composer’s wife, Yvonne Loriod, in Paris. In 2000, she was awarded the French Medal of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. A native New Yorker, she divides her time between Houston and Manhattan.”