About Xenia Pestova Bennett
"A powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire"
Described as “a powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo), pianist and composer Xenia Pestova Bennett has earned an international reputation as a leading proponent of uncompromising music. Her work spans a wide range of sound worlds, styles and genres from classical to contemporary art music, free improvisation, experimental electronica and avant-pop.
Since receiving the unanimous First Prize at the Xavier Montsalvatge International Piano Competition in Girona, Spain and prizes at the Messiaen International Piano Competition in Paris and the KeriKeri Piano Competition of New Zealand, Xenia has performed in over 20 countries - at international festivals, in concert halls, tropical rainforests, caves, ponds and countless weird and wonderful venues and spaces. She explores classical music boundaries with electronics, toy pianos, synthesizers and the magical and mysterious Magnetic Resonator Piano.
Xenia Pestova Bennett is featured at festivals and venues around the world, including appearances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, National Concert Hall in Dublin, Sage Gateshead, Glasgow Royal Concert Halls, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Festival Archipel (Geneva), Approximation (Dusseldorf), Ars Musica (Brussels), Christchurch Arts Festival (New Zealand), Lanaudière (Canada), London Contemporary Music Festival, Musica (Strasbourg), Sonorities (Belfast), Spark (USA), Rainy Days (Luxembourg) and Voix Nouvelles Royaumont (France).
Pestova Bennett's commitment to contemporary music inspired her to commission dozens of new works and collaborate closely with major innovators including Annea Lockwood, Karlheinz Essl and Gayle Young. Her nine studio albums to date include widely acclaimed recordings of core piano duo works by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen with Pascal Meyer for Naxos Records, “Shadow Piano” (Innova) for piano, toy piano and electronics, a “terrific album of dark, probing music” (Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader), the complete piano works by Gayle Young (Farpoint), hailed as "a triumph" (John Eyles, All About Jazz), and "Gold.Berg.Werk" (Ergodos), a reimagining of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations by Karlheinz Essl described as "a sci-fi journey in the direction of 1741” (Luke Clancy, RTE Lyric FM).
Xenia's own compositions are available on Diatribe Records and TakuRoku. Her full-length album "Atomic Legacies" features Ligeti Quartet and the Magnetic Resonator Piano. Highlighted in Bandcamp's "Best of Contemporary Classical" in 2020, the album was reviewed as "boldly conceived and brilliantly realised... a foretaste of things to come" (Julian Cowley, The Wire), "intoxicating, extraordinarily eerie and evocative” (Bernard Clarke, RTE LyricFM), "melancholy... heart-swells and proper feelings" (Jennifer Lucy Allan, The Quietus) and "a nuclear musical reaction that produces great, irradiated beauty" (Tom Service, BBC Radio 3). Xenia's subsequent "Atonal Electronic Chamber Music for Cats" takes an unexpected turn-around, using vintage synthesizers in an exploration of 1990's techno-art-pop nostalgia.
Xenia studied piano and composition in New Zealand, the UK, the Netherlands, France and Canada. She holds a Doctorate from McGill University. During a twelve-year career in academia, she was Head of Performance at Bangor University in North Wales, Director of Performance and Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham and visiting Professor of Music at Gresham College, London. Her interest in health and optimal performance led to extensive accredited teacher training in yoga, breathwork and meditation practices. In addition to her performance career, Xenia is in demand as a wellbeing instructor, coach and lecturer for organisations and educational institutions around the world. In 2022 and 2023, she presented 66 workshops in secondary schools across Ireland reaching 580 participants in an ambitious "Befriending Anxiety" programme with The Music Network. She is a published author with a book on performance anxiety management and co-editor of the Living Music book series with Christopher Dingle.
Photo Credit: Paul Hudson
Atonal Electronic Chamber Music for Cats: DELUXE edition
Xenia is delighted to launch this exquisite album-length deluxe edition featuring bonus tracks and exclusive remixes by Rrose and The Transcendence Orchestra. Available as digital download or limited-edition fire engine red cassette.
New CD/download: Gayle Young's As Trees Grow
(Ars Subtilior / FarPoint)
Microtonal recordings of frozen waterfalls, truffle mycelia, fruiting trees in Umbria, ephemeral spring wildflowers in Canada: Young’s poetic musings on environmental themes will soothe and provoke, massaging your ears and waking up multi-sensory associations.
Release date: April 6, 2022
"Befriending Performance Anxiety" Book (Brompton Cove Press)
Packed with simple practical interventions, "Befriending Performance Anxiety" is your guide to achieving optimal performance states and finding support before, during and after each public event.
Annea Lockwood / Luc Ferrari
Xenia Pestova Bennett presents her new project featuring the works of Luc Ferrari and Annea Lockwood, as well as a selection of shorter pieces by John Cage.
Austrian composer Karlheinz Essl offers a refreshing glimpse of a new performance practice through his unusual take on J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (1741)
Magnetic String Resonance
Pianist Xenia Pestova Bennett presents uncompromising renditions of radical text scores and improvisations on the Magnetic Resonator Piano (MRP), a new instrument designed by Andrew McPherson.
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Photo Credit: Damian Wojcik