Kessa Mefford Biography

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Kessa Mefford has been performing piano in public since the age of six. Described by long-time audience members as a “bridge between the average person and the music she plays” and a “dynamic, passionate musician,” Kessa is known for sharing her joy of music with her audiences. A native of Peekskill, New York, Kessa was homeschooled by two musicians and raised to be not only a pianist, but a well-rounded musician, including singer, collaborator, teacher, and coach.  Kessa is an active artist with the Piatigorsky Foundation, performing for them on fully funded solo and collaborative tours to underserved communities all around the USA. She is also an active performer in Westchester County, New York, and New York City. She has performed Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto and Mozart’s 23rd Piano Concerto with the Taconic Opera Chamber Orchestra in Westchester, and she has also started her own concert series “Whimsical Birdsong,” based out of New York in which she performs and collaborates with others in presenting the complete works of Ravel that include piano.

At the end of 2019, Kessa released her debut CD with Whole Note Publishing featuring the live performance of the Beethoven concerto as well as other works performed live in 2016 by Scriabin, Bach, Menotti, and Scarlatti. Since the pandemic started she has been active in maintaining an online presence through live stream concerts from her home and the “Piano at Noon” quarantine project, during which she would live stream practice sessions, mini master classes, lectures about composers, and performances of single pieces.

Kessa received an MM in piano performance from the Mannes School of Music in May 2020, graduating with the prestigious Steinway Award for exceptional pianists with excellent artistry and service to the school and fellow students. She received multiple generous music merit scholarships while studying under Simone Dinnerstein. Through Mannes, Kessa was able to participate in the Neighborhood Classics concert series organized by Dinnerstein, giving musical presentations and performing in a benefit concert at PS 321 in Brooklyn. She also performed in several Mannes Sounds Festival concerts, including “Bach’s Footsteps," two years in a row, giving a performance of Philip Lasser’s “12 Variations on a Bach Chorale" and then the 2nd Philip Glass etude in a concert presenting all 20, as well as concerts featuring the works of female composers such as Clara Schumann and Amy Beach. 

Kessa received a BM in piano performance in August 2017 at Brigham Young University, where she received several academic and music merit scholarships, including the Brigham Young Scholarship, the Cheri de Bonneville Scholarship, and a General Music Scholarship that increased each year of study. While at BYU, she studied with Dr. Richard Anderson and Dr. Irene Peery-Fox. During her time at BYU, she participated in their annual concerto competition playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, where she was a finalist. 

For the last several years, Kessa has also worked actively as a vocal accompanist. Her previous vocal training gave her many collaborative opportunities which have allowed her to play in vocal recitals, dozens of juries, and opera scenes at BYU, as well as accompany entire operas with the New York Opera Conservatory. She also teaches private piano lessons at the Cortlandt School of Performing Arts, having received intensive piano pedagogy training from Dr. Irene Peery-Fox and Dr. Jared Pierce while at BYU, and having attended pedagogy conferences and workshops including UMTA and MTNA associated events. 

Kessa has participated in countless recitals, concerts, and master classes. Her master class and coaching opportunities have allowed her to work with renowned pianists Kirill Gliadkovsky, Evelyn Chen, Michael Gurt, Tamás Ungár, Marc Silverman, and Evelyne Brancart. Her recent awards include 1st place in the Best Brahms Performance edition of the Great Composers Competition series, 2nd place in the Best Liszt Performance and 3rd place in the Artist of the Year editions of the same series. When Kessa is not practicing, she is training for her black belt in karate, playing video games, or spending time with her husband and two cats.

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