Pianist Joanne Polk was catapulted into the public eye with her recordings of the complete piano works of American composer Amy Beach (1867–1944). Ms. Polk celebrated the centennial of Beach’s Piano Concerto by giving the work its London premiere with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Barbican Center under the baton of Paul Goodwin. A few days later, she performed the Piano Concerto with the Women’s Philharmonic in San Francisco with conductor Apo Hsu in a performance the San Francisco Chronicle described as “brilliant.”
The first recording in the Beach series, by the still waters, received the 1998 INDIE award for best solo recording. Empress of Night, the fifth volume of Ms. Polk’s survey of Beach’s piano works, includes the Piano Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra, Paul Goodwin conducting. The sixth volume, Morning Glories, joins Ms. Polk with the Lark Quartet in three chamber music works. Her all-Beach performances with the Lark Quartet at Merkin Concert Hall were applauded by the New York Times as “polished and assured.” The American Record Guide reported, “Polk and the Larks played their hearts out. We in the audience shouted ourselves hoarse with gratitude.”
Ms. Polk’s CD Completely Clara: Lieder by Clara Wieck Schumann, featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Korliss Uecker, was selected as one of the “Best of the Year” by the Seattle Times and featured on NPR’s Performance Today. Ms. Polk’s CD Callisto (Albany Records) features the solo piano music of Judith Lang Zaimont. Her 2007 CD Songs of Amy Beach, recorded with baritone Patrick Mason for Bridge Records, was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award. In 2010, Ms. Polk’s two-CD set of solo piano music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Songs for Pianofore, was released on the Newport Classic label. Ms. Polk’s most recent solo piano CD, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, was released in June 2012 on the Bridge Records label.
Ms. Polk has performed in solo recitals, with chamber ensembles, and as a soloist with orchestras in Europe, the U.S., and Australia. With composer Judith Lang Zaimont, she co-founded American Accent, a contemporary music group specializing in coveted, repeat performances of new works.
Ms. Polk received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music. In August 2012, Ms. Polk was one of four directors who launched Manhattan in the Mountains, a two-week summer music festival in the Catskill Mountains, devoted to chamber music, solo performing, and community engagement.
Ms. Polk has been a member of the Manhattan School of Music piano faculty since 2010 and of the Precollege faculty since 2006. She is an exclusive Steinway artist.