In the first half of her 2013 faculty recital, pianist Robin McCabe performs solo works of Chopin, including the magisterial Polonaise-Fantaisie, as well as Debussy’s evocative l’Isle Joyeuse. In the second half, she is joined in pianistic fire power by her sister, noted Pacific Northwest pianist Rachelle McCabe, in duo piano works by Rachmaninoff and others.
Robin McCabe, piano
Celebrated American pianist ROBIN MCCABE has established herself as one of America’s most communicative and persuasive artists. McCabe’s involvement and musical sensibilities have delighted audiences across the United States, Europe, Canada, and in seven concert tours of the Far East. The United States Department of State sponsored her two South American tours, which were triumphs artistically and diplomatically.
As noted by the New York Times, “What Ms. McCabe has that raises her playing to such a special level is a strong lyric instinct and confidence in its ability to reach and touch the listener.” The Tokyo Press declared her a “pianistic powerhouse,” and a reviewer in Prague declared, “Her musicianship is a magnet for the listener.” Richard Dyer, the eminent critic of the Boston Globe, wrote: “Her brilliant, natural piano playing shows as much independence of mind as of fingers.”
Her recordings have received universal acclaim, Her debut album for Vanguard Records featured the premiere recording of Guido Agosti’s transcription of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. Critics praised it as “mightily impressive.” Stereo Review described her disc of Bartók as “all that we have come to expect from this artist, a first-rate performance!” She was commissioned to record four albums for the award-winning company Grammofon AB BIS in Stockholm, which remain distributed internationally, including the CD Robin McCabe Plays Liszt (AB BIS No. 185).
McCabe, a Puyallup native, earned her bachelor of music degree summa cum laude at the University of Washington School of Music, where she studied with Béla Siki, and her master’s and doctorate degrees at The Juilliard School of Music, where she studied with Rudolf Firkusny. She joined the Juilliard faculty in 1978 then returned to the UW in 1987 to accept a position on the piano faculty. In 1994 McCabe was appointed Director of the School of Music, a position she held until 2009. She has held a Ruth Sutton Waters Professorship and a Donald Petersen Professorship in the School of Music. In addition, McCabe is a dedicated arts ambassador and advocate for arts audience development, frequently addressing arts organizations across the country.
McCabe is a teacher in high demand, with gifted students from throughout the US and abroad seeking admittance to her studio class. With colleague Craig Sheppard, she has created the highly successful Seattle Piano Institute, an intense summer “immersion experience” for gifted and aspiring classical pianists that enters its fourth season in 2013.
The winner of numerous prizes and awards, including the International Concert Artists Guild Competition and a Rockefeller Foundation grant, McCabe was the subject of a lengthy New Yorker magazine profile, “Pianist’s Progress,” later expanded into a book of the same title.
McCabe has collaborated in concert with many distinguished artists, and toured the United States for several years as the recital partner of the renowned violinist Ruggiero Ricci, who died last year at age 94. In the past three years she has presented duo recitals with violinist Maria Larionoff, and in February of 2013 their concert launched a two-season project in which they will perform the violin and piano sonatas of Beethoven.
In 1995 McCabe presented the annual faculty lecture—a concert with commentary—at the University of Washington. She is the first professor of music in the history of the University to be awarded this lectureship. Seattle magazine selected McCabe as one of 17 current and past University of Washington professors who have had an impact on life in the Pacific Northwest. In 2005, to celebrate its 100th year as an institution, The Juilliard School selected McCabe as one of 100 alumni from 20,000 currently living to be profiled in its centenary publication recognizing distinction and accomplishments in the international world of music, dance, and theater.
McCabe performs regularly throughout the United States, and in September of 2011 she made her first visit to South Korea. She appears often as an invited jurist for international piano competitions, most recently in New Orleans, San Antonio, and Vancouver, Canada.
Rachelle McCabe, piano
Rachelle McCabe, concert pianist and professor of music at Oregon State University, enjoys an international career as artist-teacher and is well known to audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest where she appears frequently as a solo recitalist and highly respected chamber musician. McCabe has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, Southeast Asia and England. In addition to solo piano recitals in Singapore, Cambridge (UK), Malaysia, Seattle, Atlanta, Detroit, Portland, and Washington, D.C., she has been heard on NPR's Performance Today, the CBC, and PBS television. As concerto soloist she has played with many North American orchestras including the Seattle, Pittsburgh, Oregon and Victoria symphonies. She performs duo-piano recitals with her sister Robin McCabe. As artist teacher, Rachelle McCabe has appeared in many festivals including the Victoria International Festival, The Johanessen Summer School of the Arts, The Highlands Festival in North Carolina, Chamber Music Northwest and the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival. She was a faculty member of The Seattle Piano Institute in 2012, and an adjudicator at the annual Hong Kong Festival in 2008 and 2012. She has also held short-term teaching residencies at schools in Singapore and Malaysia.
At Oregon State University, Rachelle McCabe directs the piano program and is artistic director of Corvallis-OSU Piano International and its prestigious Steinway Recital Series. She directs OSU’s Piano Power camps for high school piano students throughout the Pacific Northwest and co-directs the annual OSU Chamber Music Workshop. On the basis of outstanding teaching, McCabe was named a master teacher in the College of Liberal Arts. She holds a doctorate (D.M.A.) from The University of Michigan where she studied with Theodore Lettvin and Gyorgy Sandor, a master's degree from The Juilliard School where she studied with Ania Dorfmann, and a bachelor's degree from The University of Washington where she studied with Bela Siki.