Jeanne-Minette Cilliers is a performer in the 2021 Digital Short Brown Sounds.
South African-born pianist Jeanne-Minette Cilliers has been called “a pianistic poet”, garnering rave reviews for her color-rich and imaginative performances. From a young age, she won top prizes in national and international competitions. These successes culminated in numerous solo performances at prestigious venues such as the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. and the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago. She has recorded regularly for the South African Broadcasting Company, and has been featured on SABC television and radio programs.
In high demand as a collaborator, Ms. Cilliers has performed in Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Israel, Japan, Sweden, South Africa, Barbados, and across North America, including festivals and venues such as the Irving S. Gilmore Keyboard Festival, the Ravinia Festival, the Guggenheim Museum, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City. She has collaborated with artists such as Frans Helmerson, Janos Starker, Martina Arroyo, Håkan Hagegård, David Daniels, Eric Owens, Susan Graham, Joyce Castle, Lise Lindstrom, Lester Lynch, and directors Peter Sellars, David Alden, Peter Konwitchny and Calixto Bieito.
Ms. Cilliers fosters a strong interest in new music, and has presented several scores in world and North American premieres. Prominent contemporary composers with whom she has worked include Dominick Argento, William Bolcom, Jake Heggie, John Corigliano, Mark Adamo, Sven-David Sandström, Rolf Martinsson, and Mohammed Fairouz. She has recorded Dominick Argento's Andreé Expedition with baritone Håkan Hagegård. From 2011 to 2012 Ms. Cilliers functioned as music director for American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice program. In the capacity of principal coach and pianist, she has played an integral part in Santa Fe Opera’s development and summer 2013 premiere of Oscar, a new opera by Theodore Morrison. As head of music, she assisted conductor Titus Engel at Opera Vlaanderen and IRCAM, Paris in the highly anticipated world premiere of Chaya Czernowin's opera Infinite Now. Also at Opera Vlaanderen, she worked with composer Héctor Parra and conductor Peter Rundel on the operatic adaptation of the controversial novel Les Bienveillantes. In this production, staged by Calixto Bieto, Ms. Cilliers also performed the onstage piano part on a flying piano.
After five years as repetiteur for Opera Vlaanderen, Ms. Cilliers is currently spearheading the new Collaborative Piano program at the Royal Conservatory Antwerp, while additionally serving as Studienleiter for the voice department. Previously she has served on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, as well as music director for the Martina Arroyo Opera Foundation in New York City from 2005 to 2013. From 2009 to 2010 she was a principal coach and pianist at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival, and between 2011 to 2014, she joined the Santa Fe Opera as a member of their music staff.
Ms. Cilliers earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Michigan with pianist Anton Nel. As a student of Menahem Pressler, she earned an Artist Diploma from Indiana University. She remains the first and only recipient of an Artist Diploma in vocal accompanying from the Manhattan School of Music, where she worked with Warren Jones.
Ms. Cilliers is based in Antwerp, Belgium, where she lives with her husband, tenor Andrew Richards.