Pianist Sarah Rothenberg has been artistic director since 1994. From 2011 to 2018 she also served as general director. A pianist of “heart, intellect and fabulous technical resources” (Fanfare) and “power and introspection” (The New York Times), Sarah Rothenberg has a unique career as performer, writer and creator of multidisciplinary performances which she conceives and directs linking music to literature and visual art. Renowned for her innovative programming as a concert curator, prior to her arrival at Da Camera, Sarah Rothenberg was co-founding Artistic Director of the Bard Music Festival. The Wall Street Journal recently described her as “a prolific and creative thinker.” Her most recent recording is Da Camera’s Music for Rothko Chapel: Satie, Cage and Feldman on ECM, included in the 10 best classical recordings of 2015 by the Chicago Tribune and called hypnotic and moving” by London’s Guardian in a 5-star review.
Sarah Rothenberg’s most recent original production, A Proust Sonata, premiered at Da Camera in February, 2016. It had its New York premiere at FIAF French Institute Alliance Francaise in January 2018. This new production, with a Tony and Obie award-winning production team, explores the creative world of Marcel Proust’s literary masterpiece and the music, paintings and people that inspired it. Previously, In the Garden of Dreams, connecting the music, art and ideas of fin-de-siècle Vienna, premiered at Da Camera in 2013 to critical acclaim. The Blue Rider: Kandinsky and Music, a staged concert with video, was commissioned by Works & Process at The Guggenheim for the museum’s Kandinsky retrospective, premiered to sold-out houses at New York’s Miller Theater of Columbia University in 2009. She has performed her original production, Chopin in Paris: Epigraph for a Condemned Book, at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival/Fontana Arts, University Musical Society of Ann Arbor, 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 for their CD release of Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen (Bridge Records) here and abroad. Sarah Rothenberg’s Music and the Literary Imagination series, produced by Da Camera and inspired by the writings of Proust, Mann, Kafka and Akhmatova, 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.
Sarah Rothenberg’s artistic collaborations reach beyond the music world to include lighting designer Jennifer Tipton; actors Fritz Weaver, Uta Hagen, André Gregory; American poet John Ashbery, Dutch author Cees Nooteboom and Polish poet Adam Zagajewski. She has been presented in concert by 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, New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge and concert series across the United States. In 2013, Sarah Rothenberg embarked on a new multi-disciplinary adventure with choreographer/director Martha Clarke, sharing the stage with actress Amy Irving and renowned ballet dancers Herman Cornejo and Alessandra Ferri in Chéri at New York’s off-Broadway Signature Theatre for 48 performances. In 2014, Chéri was presented at Italy’s Ravenna Festival and at The Kennedy Center, and in 2015 the production toured to 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 to 1994. Recent 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’s Romances with violist Hsin-Yun Huang, for which she received the Sam Sanders Collaborative Artist Award from the Classical Recording Foundation following the CD release and performance at Carnegie’s Weill Hall. Sarah Rothenberg and the Brentano Quartet’s performance of the Picker Quintet appears on the Tzaddik label 2014 CD Invisible Lilacs.
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. Sarah Rothenberg’s writings on music, art and literature appear in The Threepenny Review, Brick, TriQuarterly and Conjunctions, as well as The Musical Quarterly, Nexus, Chamber Music, The Crisis of Criticism (ed. Maurice Berger/New Press) and Rackstraw Downes: Onsite Paintings (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.