Jennifer Wright, M.M., B.M., is a keyed-instruments performer, composer, educator, graphic artist, event producer, destroyer of pianos, culture-maker and passionate aficionada of the creative life.
Her work explores the fluid intersections between artistic disciplines to create adventurous contexts for modern art music performance that seek to deliver memorable – hopefully even life-changing – cultural events and reshape the landscape of performative experience. Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, CT with a Bachelor of Music in piano performance (along with a Bachelor of Arts in German Studies) and studied for two years at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Stuttgart Music Conservatory) and Universität Stuttgart in Germany. She was awarded several Distinctions for her Masters Degree achievements in performance and musicological research at the Trinity College of Music in London, England in the Historically Informed Piano Performance degree program.
Her studies have also included extensive training in piano pedagogy, jazz and popular styles, period instruments including the harpsichord, solo and group voice, theater and composition.
Jennifer performs regularly as a solo and collaborative artist and has presented numerous recitals, master classes, and workshops in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Cuba. Her eclectic tastes range from the Renaissance to the avant-garde and trend increasingly towards exploring the sonically and conceptually unusual to express that which is universally human.
Actively seeking adventurous contexts for art, Jennifer has performed in venues as diverse as the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, smoky underground jazz cafes in Poland, the bottom of the Keller Fountain in Portland, Oregon, swallow-inhabited stone churches in Finland, cavernous urban warehouses, hidden historic gardens, and the fishing piers of downeast Maine. She enjoys a challenge: you may have heard her performing wrapped in glowing LED lights, accompanying screenings of Charlie Chaplin films, impersonating historical figures such as Agathe Backer-Grondahl, Marie Antoinette and Queen Elizabeth I in period attire, or flirting with frostbite during a non-stop, three-hour-long, outdoor musical peace vigil in the middle of winter. Between her professional activities and teaching studio, Jennifer has spearheaded over 100 performance events. She specializes in orchestrating multimedia/multidisciplinary collaborative happenings that create memorable and immersive cultural experiences. Her work has been supported by funding from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), Cascadia Composers, March Music Moderne (MMM), a variety of generous private sponsors, and through crowd-sourced venues like Kickstarter.
Jennifer is a highly creative, effective and innovative teacher who is passionate about promoting joy and excellence in music making. Her approach combines healthy technique, a curriculum custom tailored for each individual, and a wide range of studio performances, group classes and outreach events. These combine with theoretical, historical and contextual understanding to achieve a truly remarkable musical education that celebrates each student’s unique personality and musical journey.
Jennifer has taught piano full-time since 1998, at arts institutions such as The Hartt School Community Division in Hartford, CT (rated one of the top three university-affiliated arts schools in the United States), in music camps and workshops, and in private studios in Connecticut, London, England and her present home in Portland, Oregon. Jennifer frequently adjudicates piano and composition festivals for the Oregon Federation of Music Clubs and OMTA. She enjoys presenting workshops on pedagogy, performance and composition for performers, teachers and students of all ages and has published articles in Oregon ArtsWatch, Oregon Musician and OMTA Music News.
Jennifer’s compositions play with a mixture of the experimental, the visceral and the utterly listenable in a unique and ever-evolving combination of her various artistic obsessions and curious whims.
These include (but are in no way limited to) destroying and repurposing pianos, alternative keyed instruments like toy pianos (preferably LOTS of toy pianos!) and amplified harpsichord, sound sculptures, extended performance techniques, theatricality, movement, vibrant imagery, science, silliness, electronics, fashion, live art-making, and general over-the-topness. She thrives on vibrant interdisciplinary collaborations. Jennifer has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Cascadia Composers (a chapter of the National Association of Composers, USA [NACUSA]) and is a proud member of the Crazy Jane Composers, an active group of Pacific Northwest women composers. She is co-founder of the groundbreaking, intrepid female composer/performer trio Burn After Listening and of the adventurously-minded Heave-Ho Productions. Much of her work focuses around alternative keyed instruments, including typewriters, electrified African mbiras, and her one-of-a-kind creation “The Skeleton Piano”: an upright piano that she stripped of its exterior cladding, altered mightily, and plays from the inside out with a variety of wild extended techniques and electronic modification. (More info available at skeletonpiano.com) Her compositions have been performed at the 29th Annual Festival de La Habana de Música Contemporánea in Cuba (as part of the 2016 USA/Cuba composer exchange, the first since the Cuban revolution)?, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival (by members of the Corvus New Music Ensemble), Portland International Piano Festival, Portland’s March Music Moderne festival, Crazy Jane Composers concerts, Portland’s Art for the Ears Series in the Pearl, Cascadia Composers concerts, by Portland’s Resonance Ensemble under the direction of Katherine FitzGibbon, the Free Marz String Trio, and in recitals in the United States, England, and Finland.
Artists Jennifer has collaborated with include Agnieszka Laska Dancers, filmmaker Takafumi Uehara, aerialist Jordie Campbell of AWOL Dance, sculptor Melita Westerlund, and the XX Digitus piano duo.
?Jennifer’s works have been called “dazzling” (Brett Campbell, Willamette Week) and “MASTERFUL…a jewel in the crown of MMM IV [March Music Moderne 2014]” (Daniel Flessas, KBOO Community Radio Station, host of “A Different Nature” show), and Maria Choban of Oregon ArtsWatch has been known to shout (about ‘Looper’) “I FRIKKIN’ LOVE THAT PIECE!!”, but Jennifer’s favorite endorsement of her playing and compositions remains: “[Piano] Bizarro kicked major butt!” (Bob Priest, creator & producer of March Music Moderne Festival).