Dr Donna Coleman

BFA Indiana U of Pennsylvania MMus Michigan DMA Rochester

Senior Lecturer, Keyboard
Coordinator of Ensembles

T: +61 3 9035 9312
E: donnac@unimelb.edu.au

Dr Donna Coleman’s worldwide recognition encompasses award-winning recordings, major prizes in international competitions (including Second Prize in the John F Kennedy Center International American Music Competition and two Grand Prizes and Medals in the International Piano Recording Competitions), the two most prestigious music awards granted by the government of the United States of America (the Solo Recitalist Fellowship for nationwide touring and the Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship for touring and residencies in Australia), three Rockefeller Foundation grants, a Bunting Fellowship from Radcliffe College, and concert tours and teaching and performance residencies on four continents.

She is renowned for her interpretations of American music, in particular, the works of Charles Ives, and she produced two internationally acclaimed recordings of his music for Etcetera Records, one of which, the "Concord" Sonata, received France’s Diapason d'Or upon release. Christian Tarting’s review declares, “This Second Pianoforte Sonata . . . finds here its most convincing recorded version, due to its assertion, the assurance in its manner of effectively carrying out each detail, its analytical finesse,” and Peter Cossé in Berlin’s Fono Forum wrote, “The formidable dimensions and the equally high technical and psychic demands experienced throughout the course of the “Concord” Sonata are not only overcome by the interpreter, rather, she far surpasses a mere ordering of the interrelated, stylistically colorful material and uses her manual and didactic possibilities for a strongly moved, impulsive interpretation. Donna Coleman takes the aura of inaccessibility from what is in the truest sense of the word an unwieldy, complex composition. A work for both specialists and aficionados becomes unexpectedly familiar, without having its edges or its stylistic autonomy appear tempered.”

Her quest to understand the music historical context for Ives’s music has resulted in two compact discs for ABC Classics, Rags to Riches: A Syncopated Century (awarded Editor’s Choice by Soundscapes magazine upon release) and Havana to Harlem, that trace the evolution of the ragtime idea from its 19th century roots in the Americas and beyond, and the 2010 OutBach® release of the complete solo Danzas Cubanas by Ignacio Cervantes continues this journey. The Celestial Railroad Tours featuring her eclectic repertory encompassing Bach to Bill Evans and compositions written yesterday have taken her to twenty-nine of the United States of America, and to Canada, Europe, and Australia for concerts and for master classes and workshops featuring her Dancing with the Piano philosophy of whole-person music making.

Donna has presented twelve recitals for ABC Classic FM in direct nationwide broadcasts from the Eugene Goossens Hall and the Iwaki Auditorium, including her scripted version of Ives’s “Concord” Sonata for the 1996 Sydney Spring Festival, hailed by Roger Covell in the Sydney Morning Herald: “This amazing occasion [was] certainly one of the outstanding events in Sydney music this year,” and John Carmody’s Sydney Sun Herald review says, “The music ranges from large scale pianistic effects—for which her elfin figure was the source of immense power—to moments of the most fragile delicacy. Ives [in his “Concord” Sonata] left no part of the frequency or intensity range of the keyboard unexplored and Coleman challenged, fretted, cajoled and overwhelmed her audience with what she achieved in this redoubtable music.” Donna was the solo pianist for the Australian premiere of Charles Ives’s Symphony #4 with Gunther Schuller conducting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in direct broadcast from the Sydney Town Hall in 1995. She is also a popular guest on public radio in the USA and has recorded two hour-long interviews for WRTI FM’s Crossover series, one of which may be heard at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wrti/.jukebox?action=viewMedia&mediaId=947495

Donna’s OutBach® project explores relationships between the ancient musical traditions of Australia, Western European art music, and the African-inspired styles in the Americas in concerts featuring unusual settings and unexpected arrangements of and improvisations on works by Bach, Ives, and others, and resulted in the world first-ever collaborations between pianist (herself) and didgeridu artists William Barton and Tom E. Lewis. She has been drawn to the Red Centre of this land four times, on one occasion to perform for Tom E. Lewis’s Walking With Spirits Festival in Beswick NT. Born in Philadelphia, Donna Coleman held Associate Professor and Artist-in-Residence positions in three American universities before she was invited to join the Victorian College of the Arts as Head of Keyboard in 1995. She is now Coordinator of the Postgraduate Studies program for the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (Southbank), University of Melbourne.


Don’t Touch Me: the complete solo piano Danzas Cubanas by Ignacio Cervantes, Donna Coleman, pianist [OutBach® CN1 2010]

Charles Ives: “Concord” Sonata, Four Transcriptions from Emerson, Three-Page Sonata, Donna Coleman, pianist [Etcetera Records KTC 1079, 1989]

Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No 1, Studies, Varied Air and Variations, Waltz Rondo, Donna Coleman, pianist [Etcetera Records KTC 1147, 1992]

Rags to Riches: A Syncopated Century, Donna Coleman, pianist [ABC Classics, 1996]

Havana to Harlem: Rags to Riches Volume II, Donna Coleman, pianist [ABC Classics, 2005]

ABC Classic 100 Piano, Donna Coleman, pianist (two tracks by Scott Joplin) [ABC Classics, 2006]

Daniel Perlongo: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1992 for Donna Coleman), with Radio Orchestra of Bratislava, Robert Black, conductor [Master Musicians’ Collective, 1993]

John Anthony Lennon: Death Angel (1980 for Donna Coleman), Donna Coleman, pianist [Capstone Records, 1984]

Donna Coleman