Pianist Rick Rowley is a very versatile musician and has appeared extensively as a recitalist, a concerto soloist and chamber performer with an exciting list of the world’s leading musicians. The Washington Post recently wrote that he is “a communicative performer who clearly enjoys playing.” He “takes the music on its own terms and infuses it with active interpretation, tempered with understanding of its point and purpose.” The San-Antonio Express-News praised his “resplendent performance” which crackled with infectious energy, and the Austin Statesman-American has praised his “dazzling technique” and “world-class expertise,” calling one of his concerts “concerto playing at its best.” The American Record Guide praised his release of piano music of Franz Liszt saying that “Rowley’s playing is wonderful in these favorites — poetic, tender, full of grandeur.” Of his American music CD they wrote, “By all means, grab this” and recently extolled his Chopin CD writing that “the ‘Fantasy-Impromptu’ can take on all challengers.”
In the past Mr. Rowley has appeared as a conductor and in the dual role of conductor/soloist; in this latter capacity his performances of Mozart concertos have been particularly recognized. He has also taken part in concerts on period instruments, performing as harpsichordist with the Texas Bach Aria Group and on fortepiano with the Texas Baroque Ensemble.
At various times Mr. Rowley has served in lectureship positions at the University of Texas in Austin and is again currently holding that position, in which he works with pianists, vocalists and chamber music groups. He was the music lecturer/performer for the prestigious Houston Series for three years and his programs were among the most popular in the Series’ history. He is also highly admired as a teacher in master classes and has often worked with pianists, instrumentalists and actor/singers in that framework.
Mr. Rowley has recorded, produced and written liner notes for a number of compact discs; his solo recordings feature repertoire by Liszt, Guion, Chopin, Mompou, Granados, Barber, Gershwin, Cumming and Copland. He has recorded chamber music with cellist Peter Rejto; flutist Marianne Gedigian; and clarinetist Patricia Shands. Recently he contributed performances to new discs of music by American composers Kathryn Mishell and Kent Kennan. A CD of songs by Strauss, Turina, Smith and Ward with soprano, Cheryl Parrish, is now in current release.
For several years Mr. Rowley maintained a busy career in the theater and is a veteran of nearly fifty productions as actor, musical director and director. His first performances were for children’s theater at Zachary Scott in Austin and he has also worked for several theaters in Houston, the Point Theater in Ingram and the remarkable Unity Theatre in Brenham. He made his directorial debut with a production of The Belle of Amherst for the Unity Theater where he also directed a new play based on letters of George Sand and Gustave Flaubert. He was the sound designer and composer for songs and incidental music for a play based on “The Firebird” legend for Stages Theater in Houston. He has also appeared in a highly praised performance as Frank in Brian Friel’s “Molly Sweeney”.
Mr. Rowley is also a founding member of Plum Pianos, a thriving company which rebuilds and restores pianos and other keyboard instruments.