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JEANNE STARK, PIANIST

For Jeanne Stark, with thanks from the bottom of my heart for having played so well the very difficult piano solo part of this Turangalila Symphony - and with all affectionate feelings from my wife Yvonne Loriod and myself.
— Olivier Messiaen May 28th, 1981
 

Jeanne Stark was born in Belgium, her home until 1955.  She attended the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, studying with Emil Bosquet, Andre Gertler, Marcel Maas and Marcel Quinet.  She graduated with the highest marks of the previous 20 years, receiving a gold medal inscribed Pris de Virtuosité avec Grande Distinction.  She won the Laure Van Cutsem prize, appeared as soloist with the National Orchestra and was chosen to represent Belgium at an international festival of modern music at Bayreuth.

A scholarship from the International Queen Elizabeth Competition for a period of advanced study with master of her choice enabled her to come to the United States where she studied with Mieczyslaw Horszowski and Edwine Behre.

I think everyone present would agree that the special event of the evening was the performance of Chopin’s Grand Fantasy in F minor by Jeanne Sartenaer (Stark), Belgian concert artist who is being coached by Miss Behre for her New York debut next spring.
— Florence Woodard, Barre Daily Times Aug 12th 1958

Following a highly acclaimed debut in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Ms. Stark has delighted audiences in France, Canada, Mexico, Belgium and the United States.  She has given slo performances in venues from San Francisco's Masonic Auditorium and Herbst Theatre to New York's Carnegie Recital hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center.  She has been featured as a soloist with orchestras including the Belgian National Orchestra, under the direction of Leon Jongen and Edouard Van Remoorteel; the National Radio Orchestra of Belgium, conducted by Rene Defossez; the New haven Symphony; the Boston Civic Orchestra; and Berkeley Symphony conducted by Kent Nagano.

She listed an excellent program and brought many different kinds of keyboard accomplishments to play it. She showed a considerable technique (the hardest work on the program. Book II of the Brahms “Paganini Variations” was the best played), an attractive tone and the ability to turn a musical phrase.
— The New York Times, 1960

For more than fifteen years Ms. Stark has been featured on the Distinguished Artists concert series of Today's Artists and Four Seasons Concerts.  They have presented her in major venues nationally and as a performer and lecturer during their annual music festival in Yachats, Oregon.  

“The piano is the most wonderful instrument.” ...after hearing Jeanne Stark play the Schimmel, I was in complete agreement, especially in the hands of such a consummate artist. Most modern pianists can play loud and fast but what I value more than finger dexterity and power is the ability to make the piano sing; to play softly and slowly, extracting every gradation of dynamics possible. This we had abundantly from Jeanne Stark, most of all in the Sonata Opus 109 by Beethoven.
— Helen Thomsen, The Mendocino Beacon, Nov 11th 1982

Ms. Stark has also taught and performed for the Montauroux summer music festival in southern France.  She was a faculty member of the Adamant Summer Piano School in Vermont and served as a guest lecturer at Bryn Mawr College on the works of Olivier Messiaen.  She also performs nationally as part of the Adams Foundation, an organization dedicated to restoring the piano recital in communities throughout the United States.

... two selections from Olivier Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jesus” were revelatory. The composer’s flutterings and spatial echoes have rarely sounded so cosmic; it was as if they inhabited their own sonic universe.
— The New York Times, May 23, 1985

Jeanne Stark is regarded with the highest esteem, in Europe and in America, for her superb musicianship and deeply spiritual interpretations of classical music's most challenging repertoire for the piano.  Her artistry has earned her the praise of some of the great musical masters of our time, including composers Darius Milhaud, Olivier Messiaen and Lou Harrison to name a few.

Jeanne Stark now lives in Berkeley, California.