Birdfoot Festival 10th anniversary Online Season

The 2021 Birdfoot Festival celebrated the festival’s 10th anniversary with a series of online musical explorations in the format of the festival’s Backstage event. It was a joy and inspiration to put together each event with these inspiring colleagues. The recordings of these events can be watched at the links below.

RHYTHM: DVOŘÁK & PRICE— Backstage with the Jasper String Quartet
TEXTURE: KATHERINE BALCH—Backstage with the Argus Quartet
VOICES: HAYDN & MOZAR—Backstage with Jenna Sherry, Mayumi Sargent, Elizabeth Smalt, & Lucile Perrin
TIME: LILI BOULANGER—Backstage with the Linos Piano Trio
GRATITUDE: BEETHOVEN—Backstage with the Borromeo String Quartet
MEMORY: BRAHMS—Backstage with Jenna Sherry, Shuann Chai, & Teunis van der Zwart

June 30, 2021



Brahms & Dohnányi Recording Reviews

It has been truly delightful and moving to hear from friends and colleagues who took the time to listen to the Brahms & Dohnányi disc. The recording has been heard on Bartók Radio, WFMT Chicago (New Releases with Lisa Flynn), and you can hear me talk about the recording (and other things) on WWNO New Orleans’s Inside the Arts with Diane Mack. We are also grateful to the writers and reviewers who listened & engaged with the recording—and for their thoughts and words! Here are a few:

International Piano magazine Jan/Feb 2021 (Ateş Orga):

“Dániel Lőwenberg is a pianist whose warmth and depth of tone is ideally suited to Brahms and the emotional nuances of fin de siècle Austro-Hungarian music. In the New Orleans violinist Jenna Sherry, now based in London, he has a sensitive partner to share the journey. She advocates the music commandingly, its rise and fall blooming naturally, her vibrato expressively tasteful and restrained. Production values favour intimacy, opaqueness and muted russet shades. Dohnányi’s Sonata (1911) — a quicksilver Brahmsian homage that doesn’t end quite as one might imagine — is persuasively, sensually championed. Gorgeous.”

BBC Music (Jan Smaczny):

“Dániel Löwenberg’s decision to play an 1898 Steinway certainly adds an interesting sonic dimension, matching Jenna Sherry’s clear violin tone in well recorded performances that are technically irreproachable.”

Violin Channel
Strad Blog post



Brahms & Dohnányi recording is out!

You can now purchase the Brahms & Dohnányi recording and listen on your favorite streaming platform. More information on the BMC Records website. We can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Many thanks to Strad Magazine for inviting me to write a blog post on this project! Read it here: “Forgotten by Violinists: Brahms’s Op. 120 Sonatas”

Huge thanks are due to our wonderful collaborators on this project: producer Péter Aczél, sound engineer Viktor Szabó, and BMC Records label manager Tamás Bognár. Thanks also to Márton Kerékfy, who wrote the booklet notes and László Huszár designed the beautiful cover art.

Press releases and photos from the recording session are available in the online Press Kit.

Photo credit Krisztina Csendes



Brahms & Dohnányi on BMC Records – Out on 6 November, 2020!

After a late summer flurry of final touches, my recording of Brahms and Dohnányi Sonatas with pianist Dániel Lőwenberg is finally here! The new album will be released by BMC Records on 6 November.

As we get ready to share this project, I’ve been reflecting on how we got started and the journey from discovery to finished album. I have vivid memories of our first rehearsals of the Dohnányi sonata for a concert in Budapest several years ago. How enchanted we were by his glowing sound world and charming turns of phrase! There was a feeling of emerging from the far side of a magical rabbit hole as we made our way through his most ear-bending modulations. Especially vivid are the memories of moments when we started to enjoy the ride, trusting that we would come out of every harmonic scrape, James Bond-style, only slightly dusted up. But above all, I remember how the eloquence of the music touched us: Out of the opening three-note motive (D#–E–C#), Dohnányi weaves an epic journey, tendril by musical tendril, until these three notes work themselves so far into your psyche that you feel they must have always been there.

The idea of recording this gem of a sonata came up surprisingly early in those first rehearsals. But the idea got stuck on a crucial question: What to pair it with? We quickly rejected most of the obvious choices (Strauss, Janacek, etc.) because none quite complemented the qualities we most wanted to bring out, namely Dohnányi’s personal voice, his meticulous craft, and that distinctly late-summer feeling of nostalgia for summer itself which the late-romantics did so well—and which suffuses this sonata.

Then, by pure happenstance some months later, I noticed an announcement that Bärenreiter would re-publish the forgotten violin versions of Brahms’s Op. 120 clarinet sonatas. The link between the two composers is well known (Brahms championed the young Dohnányi’s first piano quintet in Vienna), but in these sonatas it feels as if Dohnányi picks up where Brahms left off. As Márton Kerékfy has so eloquently written in the booklet for this recording, “the late style of Brahms was Dohnányi’s musical mother tongue.” A short phone call to Dániel later, it was decided.

If you ask any violinist or music lover, they will most likely agree that Brahms wrote just three violin sonatas (Op. 78, Op. 100, Op. 108). The violin version of the Op. 120 sonatas have been completely ignored by violinists and remained out of print for over a century until 2016. Since then, a few violinists have picked them up and a recent recording challenges this assumption with its title: “Brahms—The Five Sonatas for Violin and Piano.” It’s a good headline, but I think the music tells a more complex story—not unlike the multiple layers and truths that so often coexist in Brahms’s sense of rhythm and narrative. When playing Brahms I find myself asking questions such as: Is the music in two or three? Dancing or crying? — and the answer is usually: Yes, and more.

The Sonatas Op. 120 (in F minor and E-flat major) date from 1894, shortly after Brahms came out of self-imposed retirement in order to write for clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld. “No one could play the clarinet more beautifully than Herr Mühlfeld does here,” he rapturously wrote to Clara Schumann. After hearing Mühlfeld herself, Clara replied, “it’s as if he were created for your work. This profound simplicity, and the subtlety of his interpretation!”

The genre of the clarinet sonata was brand new (and surprising, as attested to by remarks and reviews from the time), and playing the viola was also not yet thought of as a distinct pursuit from playing the violin. Although the timeline is not clear, Brahms soon envisioned a viola version of the sonatas, and shortly after in February 1895 sent a teasing letter to his publisher about yet a third version: “Since you do not care for original works, but only for arrangements—I say at once that immediately after the first issue I intend to make an edition for violin, for which some things would have to be changed—thus an independent edition.” By the end of July, 1895, all three versions had been published.

Although the Op. 120 sonatas were played by violinist Marie Soldat-Roeger and also by Joseph Joachim, who otherwise shunned transcriptions, should we really call these “violin sonatas”? Or is the DNA of the (mostly) vibrato-less clarinet so embedded in the writing that they can only be thought of as loving transcriptions of clarinet sonatas?

The chance to explore these questions and their musical implications on tempo, character, vibrato, and so much more, proved irresistible! The challenge of navigating between the three instrumental identities, each with its distinct voice, became an essential part of the rehearsal process (instruments were borrowed, friends consulted), and a source of constant inspiration. The beauty is inseparable from the ambiguity.

It is often said that these masterly late works have no extra notes—which they really don’t. And yet the music itself doesn’t know this or have that retrospective confidence as it unfolds. Over the process of making the recording, we returned again and again to the searching quality, sometimes turbulent, and sometimes child-like in its innocence, that suffuses these sonatas. I try to keep that thought fresh, even now that the recordings are “in the can,” as the saying goes—a constant reminder of what an intimate and vulnerable thing it was for Brahms, and indeed for anyone, to put notes on a page.

Brahms & Dohnányi Recording Publicity Materials

October 8, 2020



Dohnányi and Brahms Sonatas on BMC Records

Sign-up to hear a sample and hear about the launch!

I’m excited to announce a new recording of Dohnányi’s wonderful and mercurial Sonata and the two Brahms Sonatas Op. 120 (in the published version for violin made by Brahms himself) with pianist Dániel Lőwenberg.

Not many people know that these eloquent sonatas from late in Brahms’ life were originally published for violin and piano alongside the famous versions for clarinet and viola (it was a clarinetist who inspired the sonatas and Brahms’ return to composing after retirement, after all) and viola. Violinist Joseph Joachim played both the viola and violin versions in his recitals.

The recording will be released in fall 2020 by BMC Records in Budapest, and while it is not yet possible to order the recording directly from BMC, you can sign-up below to be the first to know when it is released.

May 20, 2020


2020 Birdfoot Festival Cancelled

Until recently, we were putting the finishing touches on Birdfoot 2020. I was so excited to share the news (and all of the music) with you.

The cancellation of a music festival is undeniably “small potatoes” at the moment. And yet it feels inseparable from all of the other concerts that have been canceled and all the music that is not being made. It also feels symbolic of the economic devastation that musicians—and so many others—are experiencing.

Heartfelt thanks to all of Birdfoot’s friends, fans, musicians, and volunteers. Your support brings this music to life.

Read the full letter and find out more about what Birdfoot has been able to do (thanks to you!) at There’s also a short video of music that would have been performed during Birdfoot 2020, featuring isolated musicians, Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony (and a cactus).

April 19, 2020


“[Jenna Sherry] advocates the music commandingly, its rise and fall blooming naturally, her vibrato expressively tasteful and restrained…. persuasively, sensually championed. Gorgeous.” — Ateş Orga in International Piano (Jan/Feb 2021)

A musician deeply shaped by her roots in the bohemian city of New Orleans, violinist Jenna Sherry is currently based in London. A versatile chamber musician who also specializes in historical performance, Jenna has collaborated with Steven Isserlis, composers Unsuk Chin and Julian Anderson, and performed at venues including the Kennedy Center, Barbican Hall, and in the Aldeburgh Festival, the Warsaw Autumn Festival, and the Salzburg Chamber Music Festival.

Jenna has recorded Unsuk Chin’s Double Bind? for solo violin and electronics for BBC broadcast, collaborating with the composer and the work’s original creators at IRCAM and most recently performing the piece with the SWR ExperimentalStudio in Cologne’s Acht Brücken Festival.

In 2020, with pianist Dániel Lőwenberg, she released a recording of sonatas by Dohnányi and Brahms with BMC Records (Budapest).

Jenna is the violinist/violist of EnsembleExperimental (ensemble of the SWR ExperimentalStudio in Freiburg), and regularly plays with groups such as the Irish Chamber Orchestra, Spira Mirabilis, and John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique.

She has participated in chamber music festivals around the world, including the Geelvinck Fortepiano Festival (NL), Taos Chamber Music School and Festival (USA), and the International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove (UK) where she regularly attends the invitation-only Open Chamber Music sessions.Selected as a Marshall Scholar by the British government, Jenna studied with David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and previously at Indiana University with Mark Kaplan, where she was a Herman B. Wells Scholar. While growing up in New Orleans, her formative teachers were Mary Anne Fairlie and Valerie Poullette. More recent inspiration has come from work with Ferenc Rados, András Keller, and Pavlo Beznosiuk.

In 2017, Jenna joined the faculty of the Royal Conservatory The Hague’s School for Young Talent. Jenna previously taught at the Yehudi Menuhin School (UK), a specialist music school for students between 8-18 years old.

Having sensed early on that New Orleans had something to give that classical music needs, Jenna founded and is Artistic Director of the Birdfoot Festival, praised for its “youthful, rule-bending style”.




9 – 17 JanuaryEnglish Baroque Soloists tour (Cologne, Wolfsburg, Vienna, London, Budapest, Munich)

10 – 18 MarchBirdfoot Festival 2023

Birdfoot Festival is back with a season of music-making entwined with the natural world. At the heart of the season: a listening pilgrimage that reaches beyond the concert hall to celebrate the mythic dimensions of nature, bear witness to environmental degradation, and meditate on our place in the world.

Listening Pilgrimage:
I: Awakening Friday, March 10, 6:30 PM CAC Rooftop
II: Tributaries Saturday, March 11, 10 AM, Secret Location
III: Stretch Your Senses Saturday, March 11, 3 PM Besthoff Sculpture Garden
IV: Born by the River Sunday, March 12, 4 PM, Start location: Whitney Plantation
V: Rooted Monday, March 13, 5:30 PM, Secret Location
VI: Materiality Tuesday, March 14 5:30 PM Material Institute
VII: Anthrophony Friday, March 17 6:30 PM Secret Location

Family Concert: Listen! Did you hear that?
Saturday, March 11, 2023 11:30 AM, Louisiana Children’s Museum

Born by the River
Music by Weber, Edmond Dédé, Camille Nickerson, John Luther Adams, Yaz Lancaster, and more.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023 8:00 PM, Marigny Opera House
Birdfoot Backstage: Lost Songs
Thursday, March 16, 2023, 6:30 PM, Contemporary Arts Center

Late Night: Sonic Geography
Thursday, March 16, 2023 9:30 PM, Bar Marilou

Child of Tree
Music by Beethoven, Cage, Juri Seo, James May, and more.
Saturday, March 18, 2023 8:00 PM, George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center

31 May–10 June — Guest Leader, Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra “New Perspectives” Tour
Ludwig van Beethoven: Septet in E flat major, Op.20
Louise Farrenc: Nonet in E flat major, Op.38

31 May — The Hills Grammar School, Kenthurst (NSW)
2 June — The Neilson, ACO Pier 2/3, Sydney (NSW)
3 June — Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall (QLD)
4 June — The Events Centre, Caloundra (QLD)
6 June — Albert Hall, Canberra (ACT)
7 June — Adamstown Uniting Church, Newcastle (NSW)
10 June — David Li Sound Gallery, Monash University, Melbourne (VIC)

12 AugustEnsembleExperimental & SWR Experimental Studio, New York (US)
Time:Spans Festival
7:30 PM, DiMenna Center for Classical Music, Cary Hall



3 MarchEnsembleExperimental & SWR Experimental Studio, New York (US) – CANCELLED

24 MarchLancaster Arts, Lancaster (UK)
Brahms: old soul, young at heart
A selection of songs and pieces that reflect Brahms’s spiritual influences, musical fascinations, and earthly inspirations.
Jenna Sherry, violin and Dániel Löwenberg, piano

9–14 AprilEnglish Baroque Soloists project, California (US)

May/JuneAustralian Romantic and Classical Orchestra “Sounds of Vienna” Tour
Joseph Eybler: String Quintet in D major
Franz Schubert: Octet in F major, D.803

29 May — Good Shepherd Chapel – Noosaville (QLD)
1 June — Queensland Conservatorium Theater, Griffith University – Brisbane (QLD)
3 June – Orange Regional Conservatorium (NSW)
5 June – UKARIA Cultural Center – Mount Barker Summit (SA)
7 June — National Portrait Gallery – Canberra (ACT)
8 June — Newcastle City Hall – Newcastle (NSW)
11 June — Woodend Winter Arts Festival – Woodend (VIC)
15 June — City Recital Hall – Sydney (NSW)


March–MayBirdfoot Festival 2021: Backstage! Online Festival

25 JuneEnsembleExperimental & SWR Experimental Studio, Vienna, Austria
Vienna Konzerthaus, 6 PM

9 July – 7 AugustYellow Barn Festival, Putney (Vermont)

12 – 19 SeptemberIMS Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music (UK)

10–20 November — Concerto Köln, Cologne, Germany

12 DecemberTheehuisconcerten, Venray, NL
Music by Schubert, Brahms, Clara Schumann
Jenna Sherry, violin & Shuann Chai, piano


3–5 January — Recording, Budapest Music Center, Hungary

9 January — Concert at Marksteeg 10, Leiden, NL

19 JanuaryPlacitas Arts Series, Placitas NM

20–30 MayBirdfoot Festival 2020 CANCELLED

26-31 JulyMusicianship for Performers online course

13 August — The Interior Castle—Bach’s Art of Fugue (Livestream) London
Listen on Youtube
Program notes and performer bios
Simon Blendis & Jenna Sherry, violins
Francis Kefford, viola
Ursula Smith, cello

21–27 AugustDante Festival, Cornwall

6-13 SeptemberIMS Prussia Cove Open Chamber Music

13 September – 18 OctoberMusicianship for Performers online course

26 September — Luigi Nono with Ensemble Experimental & SWR ExperimentalStudio, Freiburg



Birdfoot Festival

Recognized for its fresh approach and “intensely personal” music-making, Birdfoot Festival will celebrate its 10th season in 2021. Birdfoot creates time and space for musicians to do their best work and then brings artists and audiences together to share meaningful and inspiring musical experiences. The annual festival gathers performers who are more than just performers—exceptional artists who are also on a mission to make classical and contemporary music more relevant, visible and accessible. Named for the branching footprint of the Mississippi river delta, Birdfoot draws inspiration from New Orleans’ live-music culture, presenting chamber music in cozy venues and inviting listeners into the creative process. Over the past nine seasons, Birdfoot has presented over 160 concerts and events and drawn musicians and audiences from across the nation and five continents.

Learn more about Birdfoot Festival

Jenna speaks with Diane Mack in 2019 on New Orleans Public Radio’s Inside the Arts


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