Biography



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Since making her orchestral debut with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra at the age of 13, Holly Roadfeldt has continued to be an active solo pianist and chamber musician performing standard and eclectic recital programs in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Holly’s mission is to inspire and advocate for piano music of the highest caliber and she regularly mixes newly composed music with established masterpieces. With her most recent endeavor “The Preludes Project”, she commissioned 16 composers to write preludes to be performed alongside works from the standard repertoire. Holly premiered 64 preludes in 16 states as a guest artist at multiple venues including Oklahoma State University, Wichita State University; the Peabody Institute; University of Nebraska-Kearney; Western Carolina University; Carson-Newman University; the College of Southern Maryland; Westminster College; the University at Albany; Manchester University and Lafayette College.

The Preludes Project CD is Holly’s debut solo album and was released by PARMA Recordings in November 2016. The double CD includes Chopin’s Op. 28 Preludes and Kirk O’Riordan’s Twenty-Six Preludes for Solo Piano (2014). Holly’s performance on this CD has been lauded as “utterly convincing [with]…every note of her Chopin sound [ing] fresh and alive and her varied touch perfectly match [ing] the mood of each piece — and all are conjured up with a breathtaking sense of elation.” (Raul da Gama, World Music Report). Núria Serra of Sonograma Magazine says the double album deserves “all our highest praise” for Holly’s “expression, agility and perfect articulation.” Additional reviewers describe Holly’s playing as “exquisite… demonstrating her excellent expressive abilities and technique.” (Cinemusical), state that “the clarity of [her] playing on the faster and more complicated preludes is jaw-dropping” (Mainly Piano) and “Roadfeldt plays all 50 pieces with finesse” (Infodad).

A dedicated performer of contemporary music, Holly has premiered over 100 solo and chamber works.  In 1996, she was awarded the prize for the "Best Performance of a 20th Century American Composition" in the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition, which resulted in a performance in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. Additional contemporary music honors include being a semi-finalist in the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in 1998 and 2001 as a contemporary music specialist.  She has been delighted to premiere multiple works by Kirk O’Riordan, Kala Pierson, Kristin Kuster, Michelle McQuade Dewhirst, Anthony Donofrio, Stephen Dankner, Daniel Perttu, and Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn.

As a chamber musician, Holly has performed with members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Colorado Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony as well as with concert artists Alexa Still, Bonita Boyd, and Marcia Baldwin. She is also co-founder of the contemporary piano duo, duoARtia, which was formed with Jeri-Mae Astolfi in 2012. In March of 2013, she collaborated with the Marie Chouinard Dance Company from Montreal giving a live performance of Chopin's 24 Preludes at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. In April of 2014, she gave the world premiere of “Songs for Cifar and the Sweet Sea” for soprano, baritone, chorus, and two pianos by Gabriela Lena Frank, also at Lafayette College.

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Holly has numerous intellectual curiosities and has taught applied piano, piano pedagogy, piano literature, collaborative piano, piano sight reading, class piano, music theory, and music history at the collegiate level. Additional research interests include studying the music of Nicolai Kapustin; the expressionist music of Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg; and the performance of concert etudes written for solo piano. She is also particularly interested in how social issues are conveyed through music. In 2005, she designed a course called "Contemporary Musical Activism" which explored various musics of the 20th and 21st centuries. Holly taught this course in the spring semesters of 2005 through 2008. At Lafayette College, she developed two seminar courses: "The Art of Performance" which explored the value of artistic integrity for performers and audiences and "Statements of Identity in Modern Music”.

As a conference presenter, Holly has given lecture recitals and papers for the College Music Society national, super-regional, and regional conferences; for collegiate chapters of the National Association for Music Education; for the Delaware State Music Teachers Association; for the Institutes for Lifelong Learning at the University of Delaware and Susquehanna University; and as part of Belmont University’s Music and Discourse Lecture Series.

Holly’s live recordings can be heard on the Kosei Publishing (Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue) and the Composers Union of Armenia (music by Gor Hovhannisyan) labels. Additionally, Holly recorded the music (solo and chamber) for Kirk O’Riordan’s Strange Flowers CD, which was released on November 19th, 2013 by PARMA Recordings.

Holly currently teaches at Lafayette College, serves as master piano faculty with distinction at The Music School of Delaware and is Master Faculty at the Community Music School in Allentown. Previously, she taught at the University of Delaware, Susquehanna University, Gettysburg College, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and Indiana University.

Holly received performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music (B.M.), Indiana University (M.M.) and the University of Colorado in Boulder (D.M.A.).

Promo Photos

Reviews

"Holly Roadfeldt is utterly convincing in both her Chopin and O’Riordan. This performance is likely to be remembered as one of her most celebrated and deservedly so; every note of her Chopin sounds fresh and alive, and her varied touch perfectly matches the mood of each piece – and all are conjured up with a breathtaking sense of elation. Roadfeldt’s performance of O’Riordan’s work is similarly beckoning. Her genuine musicality and instinct for idiom seems magically suited for the works. She always navigates the flashy finger work with ear-catching precision as well as with a lightness and control that is wholly affecting. Ever-mindful of the subtlety of mood and hue in each O’Riordan miniature Holly O’Riordan brings her enviable polyphonic acumen and dance-oriented conception to operate at full capacity on a deep and (equally) subtle level as she negotiates both composers with equal facility."
--Raul da Gama, World Music Report (March 2017). Full review here.


”In her performance of these works, Roadfeldt takes claim to one of the most iconic pieces in the solo piano repertoire, and also annoints O’Riordan’s new work as an impressive achievement among Classical music’s greatest sets of piano preludes….Roadfeldt’s performance of the Chopin unquestionably captures the elegance, power, and intimacy that the composer explores in these pioneering preludes. [She] molds the piano’s sound in THE PRELUDES PROJECT, and, in her masterful rendering of Chopin and O’Riordan’s pieces, brings these two works side-by-side. As a result, one should consider Roadfeldt’s performance on this album as significant a contribution to piano music as the compositions she performs.”
—Parma Recordings


“Everyone has their personal favorite recording of these pieces. Roadfeldt’s are equally fine interpretations demonstrating her excellent expressive abilities and technique. The sound itself is quite stellar. Often these are paired with other Chopin pieces and tend to be overshadowed as a result. Here the listener can sit back and explore these often beautiful works. There are some exquisite moments throughout this performance…At the cost of a single CD, this Ravello set will certainly be worth tracking down for fans of contemporary piano music with the bonus of hearing Roadfeldt’s interpretations of the Chopin being equally worthy of consideration. Certainly, hearing her explore additional repertoire heard in her concert performances would be a welcome addition to the discography.”
—Cinemusical


”Roadfeldt plays all 50 pieces with finesse. Her Chopin is light, warm, speedy, stretched-out, agitated and songlike as appropriate, and although she allows each independent little piece to encapsulate its own particular mood, she also provides a sense of continuity-through-contrast when that is appropriate…If this release were simply a recording of the Chopin, one among a great many, it would still get a top rating for the effectiveness of Roadfeldt’s handling of the material.”
—Infodad.com


”Roadfeldt’s muscularity and poetic power were on fine display in three of the four pieces from Joan Tower’s No Longer Very Clear collection. Her fingers never stopped from the moment she placed them on the keyboard for Or Like a…an Engine (1994). Think Ondine from Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. The second piece, Vast Antique Cubes (2000), gave Roadfeldt the opportunity to play in legato before tackling Throbbing Still (2000), Tower’s recollection of the rhythms she experienced growing up in South America. Think Inca Empire meets Stravinsky.”
—Delaware Arts Info

The Preludes Project

In 2013, I was hired by Lafayette College to perform all of Chopin’s Op. 28 Preludes with Compagnie Marie Chouinard, a modern dance ensemble from Montreal. This live performance, which occurred as part of the Williams Center’s Footlight Performance Series at Lafayette College, entirely changed my perception of these preludes. Nearly every pianist (professional or amateur) has performed a few of these preludes, but they take a distinctive meaning when heard next to the others. Hearing them while seeing a modern interpretation of the music invited even more possibilities of discovery. Since our present-day ears already perceive the music in a completely different way from when the preludes were initially heard, it made sense to challenge the expectations of contemporary audiences. This led to my current performance and musicological endeavor, the Preludes Project.

At the end of 2013, I began commissioning 12 composers to write preludes for me. Of these composers, several are established, several are emerging, and others are mid-career. I have received a total of 58 preludes to date. For this season, I am programming them with preludes by Rachmaninoff, Gershwin and Chopin. In previous seasons, I also performed preludes by Bach and by Debussy. Every concert is slightly different yet the response by audiences has been astounding. Not only have they accepted the newly composed preludes alongside the standard repertoire as a logical historical progression, but they are also listening to their favorites with more wonder and more inquiry. While I notice this as I am talking to audiences from the stage, it is also evident in the many questions I receive from attendees after the concert. Audiences are more engaged, living composers are eager to have their music heard, and I can simultaneously serve as a performer and as an historian.

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The most rewarding aspect of this for me is it works for every audience. By the end of the 2016, these preludes will have been heard in full-length recitals by 32 separate audiences. They also have been heard in 10 additional concerts as part of larger new music recitals.

In summary, the preludes have been programmed for New Music Concerts at seven institutions, in Guest Artist Series recitals (not specifically for new music) at four colleges, for two established church recital series, for two community music schools, for six retirement villages, for one prominent Steinway dealer as part of their Artist Series, and for multiple lecture presentations.

In nearly all of the programmed 32 solo recitals, I have included at least one world premiere.

I am thrilled that I was also able to record a CD associated with this project. My Preludes Project CD, recorded by Grammy-winning Andreas Meyer, includes Chopin's Op. 28 Preludes and Kirk O'Riordan's 26 Preludes. It will be released by Ravello Records (part of PARMA) on November 18th, 2016. This CD offers a tangible representation of how these newly composed preludes can complement preludes from the standard repertoire.

Commissioned Composers

Prelude recordings are available in the “Preludes Recordings” tab above.

Chris Cresswell
Stephen Dankner
Anthony Donofrio
Geoffrey Gordon
Ryan Keebaugh
Michelle McQuade Dewhirst
Kirk O’Riordan
Charles Peck
Daniel Perttu
Kala Pierson
Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn
Alan Theisen

I have also included a few contemporary preludes that were already written prior to 2014. Thanks to Daniel Dorff, Garrett Shatzer, and Dale Trumbore!

Daniel Dorff
Garrett Shatzer
Dale Trumbore

I am delighted to share this chronological list of concerts. Each concert included multiple preludes composed since 2013.

4/29/14
Westminster College; New Wilmington, PA

5/1/14
Youngstown State University; Dana New Music Festival XXX; Youngstown, OH

5/16/14
Willow Valley Manor North; Lancaster, PA

9/12/14
Wichita State University; 19th Annual Contemporary Music Festival; Wichita, KS

9/17/14
Willow Valley Manor; Lancaster, PA

9/27/14
Classical Café Lecture Series; The Music School of Delaware; Wilmington, DE

11/5/14
Western Carolina University; Cullowhee, NC

11/7/14
Mars Hill New Music Festival; Mars Hill, NC

11/13/14
Willow Valley Lakes; Lancaster, PA

11/18/14
SUNY-Albany; Albany, NY

2/8/15
Second Sunday Recital Series; Unitarian Universalist Church; Bethlehem, PA

2/25/15
Kendal at Longwood; Kennett Square, PA

3/5/15
SCI Regional Conference; Henderson State University; Arkadelphia, AR

3/6/15
SCI Regional Conference; Henderson State University; Arkadelphia, AR

3/7/15
SCI Regional Conference; Henderson State University; Arkadelphia, AR

3/18/15
Lenten Noonday Recital; First Presbyterian Church; Metuchen, NJ

3/26/15
Manchester New Music Festival; Manchester University; New Manchester, IN

3/28/15
CMS Great Lakes Conference; Michigan State University; East Lansing, MI

4/30/15
Methodist Country House; Wilmington, DE

5/1/15
Lafayette College New Music Concert; Easton, PA

5/3/15
Jacobs Music; Wilmington, DE

5/6/15
Kimball Farms; Lenox, MA

5/30/15
Ward Virts Recital Series; College of Southern Maryland; Prince George, MD

9/15/15
Willow Valley Manor; Lancaster, PA

9/28/15
Kimball Farms; Lenox, MA

10/22/15
Carson-Newman University, Jefferson City, TN

12/18/15
Willow Valley Manor North, Lancaster, PA

1/7/16
New Music Gathering, Peabody Institute of Music; Baltimore, MD

2/17/16
Music School of Delaware; Wilmington, DE

2/24/16
Kendal at Longwood; Kennett Square, PA

3/3/16
Manchester University; North Manchester, IN

3/7/16
University of Nebraska-Kearney; Kearney, NE

3/23/16
Oklahoma State University; Stillwater, OK

6/16/16
Methodist Country House; Wilmington, DE

6/12/16
Avaloch Farm Music Institute; Boscawen, NH

9/25/16
Christ Church UCC; Bethlehem, PA

9/28/16
Willow Valley Manor; Lancaster, PA

9/30/16
Cokesbury Village; Hockessin, DE

CD Release Concerts

11/18/16
Scholes Street Studio; Brooklyn, NY

11/20/16
Lafayette College; Easton, PA

12/3/16
Jacobs Music; Westchester, PA

For Lisa

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In her piano lesson, one of my talented 13-year old students asked me why she was only studying music by men.  Her age, gender and cultural background (she recently moved to the United States from China) made her question a serious wake-up call.  Her more unsettling follow-up “I could never compose (because I’m a girl)” made me realize as a teacher, as a performer, and as a possible role model, my programming choices needed to address these issues of bias with a more focused and communicative approach.

This cognizance led to a new project "For Lisa" which is devoted to presenting music written by women.  Like all of the new music I perform frequently, I prefer to program music by composers with whom I have a personal relationship.  I have met numerous empowering, intelligent, passionate, and genuine women over the years. I enjoy sharing their music with others, but I am also sharing their stories.  By being true to my journey of music making, I can honestly encourage (and hopefully inspire) my students to find their individual voices. Most importantly, I hope to inspire Lisa and other students like her, and to encourage young female students to walk fearlessly down the road of self-expression and creativity.

While I am including music by women I have not met (Clara Schumann, for example), knowledge of all of these composers appeared in pivotal moments of my professional and personal life.

An article describing the beginnings of this project can be found here.

For this season, I will be giving a lecture recital (with works by Michelle McQuade Dewhirst, Mara Gibson, and Kala Pierson) at the “Music by Women Festival” in Columbus, Mississippi and I will be performing Joan Tower’s No Longer Very Clear.

Beginning with the 2017-2018 season, several concerts will be dedicated to women composers.

Contact Holly

Holly would like to hear from you! Please contact her about booking inquires, teaching, or just to say hello.