Joanne Polk was catapulted into the public eye with her recordings of the complete piano works of American composer Amy Beach (1867–1944) on the Arabesque Recordings label. She 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, and subsequently performed it with the Women’s Philharmonic in San Francisco, under conductor Apo Hsu, in a performance described as “brilliant” by critic Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He lauded her performance as “an enormously vital, imaginative reading. Her playing was expansive in the opening movement, brittle and keen in the delightful scherzo. She brought a light touch to the foreshortened slow movement and fearless technical panache to the showy conclusion.”
As a result of her work to date, promoting the music of women composers, she was named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year (2014) in an article titled, “Profiles in Courage.” In September 2014, Ms. Polk’s most recent CD, The Flatterer, solo piano music of French Romantic composer Cécile Chaminade, was released on the Steinway and Sons Label. The CD was a “Pick of the Week” on New York’s classical radio station, WQXR, and debuted at Number 1 on the Classical Billboard Chart.
Her first recording in the Amy 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, partners Ms. Polk with the Lark Quartet in three of Amy Beach’s chamber music works. Two all-Beach performances at Merkin Concert Hall, also with the Lark Quartet, were applauded by the New York Times, which praised Polk’s “polished and assured” performances. The American Record Guide reported, “Polk and the Larks played their hearts out. We in the audience shouted ourselves hoarse with gratitude.” Her 2007 CD titled 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 Pianoforte, was released on the Newport Classic label. Her solo CD, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, was released in 2012 on the Bridge Records label. Completely Clara: Lieder by Clara Wieck Schumann, her debut CD for Arabesque Recording, featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Korliss Uecker, was selected as a “Best of the Year” recording by the Seattle Times and featured on New York Public Radio’s Performance Today. Ms. Polk’s CD for Albany Records, Callisto, features the solo piano music of Judith Lang Zaimont.
Joanne 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. She has given master classes at many summer festivals and universities across the country, including Summit Music Festival, New York Summer Music Festival, Montclair State University, Kutztown University, and the University of Minnesota. In August 2012, Ms. Polk was one of four directors who launched Manhattan in the Mountains, a three-week summer music festival in the Catskill Mountains, devoted to chamber music, solo performing, and community engagement.
Ms. Polk is an exclusive Steinway artist.
Manhattan School of Music Precollege faculty since 2006.