Pianist Brian Connelly teaches solo piano performance and chamber music at the Shepherd School. His former piano students include active soloists, chamber-ensemble founders and players, avant-garde music performers, university educators, conductors, and composers, and many hold piano positions with major orchestras.
A beloved teacher and coach, Connelly is recognized for his humor, high standards, and energetic style of teaching. His students praise his ability to improve technique and to develop vivid stylistic expression in a wide range of historical and modern repertoires.
Connelly was born in Detroit, Michigan. He studied at the University of Michigan, where his teachers included famed Bartok protégé Gyorgy Sandor and American virtuoso Theodore Lettvin. A renowned interpreter of historical and modern repertoires, Connelly has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Known for his affinity for the music of French modernist Olivier Messiaen, Connelly has performed the complete Twenty Contemplations of the Infant Jesus throughout the U.S. He has also performed Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, Visions of the Amen for two pianos, all of the songs cycles with sopranos Carmen Pelton and Lucy Shelton, the chamber orchestra work Exotic Birds, the Three Small Liturgies for solo piano, orchestra and chorus with conductor Donald Runnicles, and all of Messiaen’s piano music, including the three-and-a-half hour cycle, Catalogue of Birds.
Connelly performed over 150 works for Da Camera of Houston during its path-breaking first six seasons. He is director of Context, an ensemble devoted to the performance of a wide range of chamber music on historical instruments appropriate for each era. Founded in 1995, Context has presented over 160 concerts and is currently in its 28th season.
Connelly has partnered in duo-recitals with many renowned soloists, including violinists Sergiu Luca, Stephanie Chase, and Cho-Liang Lin; violist Nobuko Imai; cellists Michael Kannen, Jean-Michel Fonteneau, Lynn Harrell, and Gary Hoffman; pianists William Bolcom, William Albright, Jeremy Denk, Jason Hardink, and Robert Levin; harpsichordist John Gibbons; clarinetists Richie Hawley and Charles Neidich; flutist Carol Wincenc; classical saxophonist Laura Hunter; baritone William Sharp; and many others. He has premiered works by a host of composers, including Albright, Bolcom, Derek Bermel, Paul Cooper, David Diamond, Ross Lee Finney, and Gabriela Lena Frank, and his eminent colleagues at the Shepherd School, Karim Al-Zand, Anthony Brandt, Pierre Jalbert, and Richard Lavenda.
Connelly is also praised as a performer on historical 18th and 19th century pianos, and has partnered with many of Europe’s finest early-music stars such as flutist Ildikó Kertész, clarinetist Lorenzo Coppola, cellist Roel Dieltiens, and bass Michael Schopper.