KRISTA BENNION FEENEY
Krista Bennion Feeney, violin, has enjoyed an unusually varied career, much in demand as a soloist, chamber musician, music director, and concertmaster. Krista is a concertmaster of Orchestra of St. Luke's, a member of St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble since 1983, and a frequent soloist with both ensembles. She is currently involved in rediscovering and reviving a musical sound world from the past, as the founding first violinist of the Serenade Orchestra and Quartet, specializing in music of the late-18th and 19th centuries with historic instrumental configurations. From 1999 to 2006, she was music director of the conductor-less New Century Chamber Orchestra based in San Francisco.
She has soloed several times with the San Francisco Symphony (debuting in Mendelssohn'sViolin Concerto in E minor at age 15), and with the St. Louis Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra (in the world premiere of SolTierraLuna, a concerto written for her by Terry Riley), Mostly Mozart, and New York String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, in addition to several historic instrument ensembles. Highlights of the 2016/2017 season include a performance as violin soloist in The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams with Orchestra of St. Luke's conducted by Sir Simon Rattle (taking place September 18, 2016, at Saint Thomas Church in New York City), and Nardini's Violin Concerto in E minor and “La Campanella” from Paganini's Violin Concerto No. 2 on historical violin with the American Classical Orchestra in May 2017.
She is the founding first violinist of the DNA Quintet, Loma Mar Quartet, and Ridge String Quartet (1979-1991), which, along with pianist Rudolf Firkusny, won the Diapason d'Or and a Grammy Award nomination in 1992 for its RCA recording of Dvorak's Piano Quintets. The DNA Quintet (the Loma Mar Quartet with the addition of bassist John Feeney) has released world-premiere recordings of the string quartets and quintets of Domenico Dragonetti to critical and popular acclaim, bringing this uniquely beautiful music to light after being hidden for more than 165 years in the British Library. The Loma Mar Quartet has also recorded original works written for the ensemble by Paul McCartney for EMI, and its members were recently featured as soloists in Arnold Schoenberg's Concerto for Quartet and Orchestra with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and with Orchestra of St. Luke's for Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance performances.
In May 2014, The New York Times praised Krista's playing saying: “Her deep notes were rich and melancholy ... there was a tender exuberance in both tumbles of notes and sustained phrases ... a dramatic interplay of ferocity and light slyness.”
Photo credit Paul Goode
Get to Know Krista
When did you begin playing your instrument and why?
My grandma, Alma Baum Lusk, taught all the kids in my family piano from a very early age. Around age five or six, I told my parents, “I want to play drums or violin because they are the easiest instruments to play.” My parents said, “Okay, you can play the violin.”
If you could meet any musician or composer, past or present, who would you choose?
Joseph Haydn. I imagine him to be like his music—full of warmth, humanity, profound feeling, and sly humor.
Where are we most likely to find you when you’re not playing music?
With a good book, hiking in the Hudson highlands, in my garden, at Blooming Hill Organic Farm, or in the kitchen.
Describe a perfect day in New York City.
It would start with an easy commute, followed by a positive and productive rehearsal—playing great music and feeling inspired. If a conductor were involved, he or she would be inspiring and know how to rehearse an orchestra. Going home, there’d be great jazz on the radio and no traffic.