Kerenza Peacock is a musical wanderer – equally at home playing classical works by Vivaldi and Mozart as she is performing new works by young composers like Oliver Davis or letting her hair down playing fiddle with Anglo-American Bluegrass band The Coal Porters.
In fact, you are equally likely to hear her playing on BBC Radio One as you are on Classic FM or Radio Three. "Flight", Kerenza’s disc as concerto soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra, reached the top of the Classical Charts in the UK and US in 2015.
"Flight" was a series of violin concertos written especially for her by Oliver Davis, and released by the Signum Classics label. Her recording of Vivaldi’s "Four Seasons" was selected as Album of the Week on Classic FM, and featured on BBC Radio 3. "Dance", her latest collaboration with Davis was recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and joined their previous CDs at the top of the charts. All received five-star reviews from the critics.
Her debut solo disc had been the world premiere recording of the Holbrooke Violin Concerto for the Naxos record label, praised in Gramophone Magazine for her “lithe, elegant violin-playing and her easy conquest of the virtuoso demands…”
Kerenza studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with First Class Honours. She was recently made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for having made "a significant contribution to the music industry".
Kerenza was leader of the Pavao Quartet for 15 years, recording five albums and touring the world. Kerenza and three friends founded the Quartet during their first week at the Royal Academy of Music in 1998. During their four years at the Academy, they won many prizes individually and as an ensemble, culminating in their appointment as Leverhulme Chamber Music Fellows for a further two years.
They delighted audiences across the UK with their classical recitals, playing to music societies, many of the major festivals, and in venues including the Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, Gateshead’s Sage and Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. They went on to tour abroad, including in Syria, Israel, Oman, China and performed in an arc of European cities from Lisbon to Warsaw.
A CD of encore repertoire, Someone to Watch Over Me, launched their successful recording career, leading to extensive radio play. George Gershwin’s nephew said it contained “the best arrangements and playing of my Uncle’s songs I have heard!”
A disc of quartets by Bax and Elgar was welcomed as ‘a real winner’ from ‘an ensemble of real depth and musical distinction’ (Classic FM Magazine), with ‘plenty of energy, precision and clarity’ (BBC Music Magazine) and ‘an intoxicating warmth and emotional spontaneity’ (The Strad Magazine). Music Web International christened it disc of the month, ‘an unqualified success – a real must-have!’
Their Christmas Collection for Breakthrough Breast Cancer also became the soundtrack of Christmas for many people, on both disc and radio. Their 'Dreaming' album was described as 'Chamber music for a new century' (BBC Radio 2).
Kerenza’s extensive experience in the recording studio has also led to her regularly recording in Abbey Road and Air Studios for many films (including the Phantom of the Opera, The Counselor and Limitless) and also for TV; recording music for Andrew Lloyd Webber, the X Factor, many TV commercials and several seasons of Downton Abbey.
Kerenza enjoyed recording on Eric Whitacre's "Light and Gold" album which went on to win a Grammy Award.
Kerenza is a regular concerto soloist with several orchestras in London’s St. Martin in the Fields and has played chamber music with members of the Amadeus and Alberni Quartets.
When Kerenza first left the Royal Academy she often played in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra.
She has led the orchestra for many West End shows, including Les Miserables, Guys and Dolls featuring Patrick Swayze, and Sweeney Todd featuring Imelda Staunton. Kerenza was the soloist in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ in London's Savoy Theatre.
Kerenza has a duo with pianist Alison Farr, and they have performed together across the UK and as far afield as Canada and Hawaii. She was invited to Cremona for the Stradivarius Festival to play in an orchestra performing solely on instruments by Stradivarius. Throughout UK and foreign tours with the Henri Oguike Dance Company, Kerenza played a Bill Evans piece on stage for the solo performances of Henri Oguike himself (including at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and in the Genius of the Violin Festival).
Kerenza continues to perform all over the world, recently playing concertos by Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Korngold, Dvorak, Bach, Piazzolla and Vivaldi. A piece she composed for orchestra was performed recently in St. Martin in the Fields.
Kerenza divides her time between playing in a classical environment and performing with bluegrass band The Coal Porters.
The Coal Porters have released their sixth studio album, fittingly called No 6, to which Kerenza contributing several songs and even sang for the first time. It was produced by legendary produced John Wood (Fairport Convention/ Nick Drake).
"There’s also a fiery instrumental titled “Chopping the Garlic” and penned by Peacock, who steers the gentlemen through the changes and their solos like a seasoned bandleader thrice her age." Blurt Magazine
Classical stars Kerenza has shared a stage with include: Andrea Bocelli, Hayley Westenra, Il Divo, Katherine Jenkins, Sir Willard White, Russell Watson and Charlotte Church. Kerenza is playing on many best-selling albums by singer Hayley Westenra and the CD she recorded with Craig Ogden, called ‘The Guitarist’, reached no. 1 in the Classical Charts. She is featured on Eric Whitacre's "Light and Gold" album which went on to win a Grammy Award.
She has recorded on albums by Adele, Noel Gallagher, the Spice Girls, KanyYe West, Cee-Lo Green, The Script, Pink, Paul Weller, One Direction, Celine Dion and Emeli Sande. She has performed live with singers as diverse as Tony Bennett, Josh Groban, Barry Manilow, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Bryan Adams, Elaine Paige, Kylie Minogue, Sir Paul McCartney, Stereophonics, Ronan Keating, Sophie Ellis Bexter, Eric Clapton, the Beach Boys and toured with Adele, leading her orchestra.
Labels are frustratingly narrow when applied to Kerenza's view of music. She has performed as soloist with the London Symphony Orchestra and received 5 star reviews for her Vivaldi "Four Seasons", but her view is broadened by the fact that she has recorded with the world’s most famous pop stars.
Highlights of her career so far have included performing on over 20 different Stradivari violins, and also the opportunities she has had to reach further into the community by playing in schools and hospices. When travelling abroad for her concerts, she has heard her recordings in such unlikely places as a canal boat in Amsterdam, a casino in Las Vegas and a souk in Syria.
Away from THE VIOLIN:
- Kerenza is often found knitting, and was once featured in Knitting Magazine (!)
- She once tap danced down the aisle of St Martin in the Fields in the middle whilst playing a concerto encore.
- When not playing the violin, she is frequently to be found playing her Kala ukulele.
- Kerenza is also studying to be an End of Life Transition Guide (also known as a Death midwife/Death doula) and is keen to open up new conversations around dying and the options available.
- She is also passionate about natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals and is a Wellness Advocate for DoTerraEssential Oils.
- And finally, in case you were wondering, Kerenza is an old Cornish name meaning "love and affection". (Her family are from Cornwall )