Dr. Rochelle Sennet – 2022 Founder’s Concert
This In-Person Concert was held on Saturday, May 7, at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Avenue, Berkeley, California at 3:00 pm.
This concert was held in tribute to Dr. W. Hazaiah Williams, Founder of Four Seasons Arts.
Program: Bach to Black
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Partita no. 3 in A Minor, BWV 827
Jeffrey Mumford (b. 1955): four dances for Boris
Maestoso e sonoro—Variation I (Urgente)—Variation II (Pensieroso ma grazioso)— Variation III (Insistente)
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Partita no. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943): In the Bottoms Suite
– His Song
– Honey (Humoresque)
– Barcarolle (Morning)
– Dance (Juba)
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 received the Bachelor of Music degree from San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Master of Music degree from University of Michigan, Artist Diploma from Texas Christian University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of Illinois. 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. She is the inaugural Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the College of Fine and Applied Arts at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also serves as Associate Professor of Piano in the School of Music.
Her newest 3-Disc recording, “Bach to Black,” has been released on Albany Records in June 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. Her previous solo recording, entitled “Alkebulan’s Son: The Solo Piano works of James Lee III,” was released in May 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, and earned a Silver Medal from Global Music Awards. 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. Robert Schulslaper of Fanfare Magazine described her performance of Walker’s concerto: “Rochelle Sennet plays the concerto…with supreme confidence.” 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 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, Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Hastings College in Nebraska. 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 with Russian international violin performer Igor Kalnin, 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, Luther College, 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 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 Sejong Music Society Piano Competition, Zelpha Wells Piano Competition in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Walgreens Concerto Competition in Highland Park, Illinois.
Dr. Rochelle Sennet is a Yamaha Artist.
About the Founder’s Concert
Dr. Williams was one of the first African-American presenters of a major classical music concert series in the United States and it is to him that we offer this special tribute. His love of classical music began as a child when he attended concerts by legendary artists such as tenor Roland Hayes and contralto Marian Anderson, In 1958, at a time when the classical music world, and much of the rest of society, was racially segregated, he began presenting artists of all races and organizing racially diverse audiences. Over 40-plus years in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, he introduced to the world some of the finest musicians of our time.
Four Seasons Arts continues this legacy by presenting annual concerts in Oakland, California, providing artists’ seminars and master classes for Oakland public school students, organizing concerts at the Alameda County Jail, and featuring online concerts and programs.
This annual “Founder’s Concert” reaffirms Dr. Williams’ belief that Art creates images of beauty that enrich and ennoble as they inspire us to achieve the highest and best in the human experience. He felt that race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and language were artificial barriers and he used music as his vehicle for celebrating the enduring commonality of the human family.