“It's difficult to avoid anthropomorphisms when describing the Steinway experience. Getting to know an unfamiliar Steinway is like making a new acquaintance, either with an energetic, strong and ambitious ‘youth’ bursting with potential; or (and for me preferably) with an older ‘gentleman’ or ‘lady’- a fountain of experience, depth, warmth, brilliance, inspiration and generosity. It's a privilege to play on a Steinway, either in daily practice or in performance.”
Pianist Heather O'Donnell has performed throughout America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. She was a soloist with the St. Petersburg State Symphony, the Romanian State Philharmonic in Ploiesti, Mendelssohn Chamber Orchestra in Leipzig, and the Tanglewood Festival Chamber Orchestra. She was featured on Deutschland Radio, Radio France, and Deutsche Welle Television.
She plays a wide range of music, from Bach's Goldberg Variations through major works of the early 20th-century (e.g. Charles Ives's- Concord Sonata, Maurice Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit), continuing on to a strong involvement with contemporary music. She gave over 30 world-premieres of solo piano works (including pieces by Luciano Berio, Walter Zimmermann and James Tenney) and is the dedicatee of works by several composers (including Michael Finnissy, Frederic Rzewski, and Oliver Schneller). Heather O'Donnell was the first prize winner and the recipient of the Gaudeamus Foundation Prize in the Fifth Krzysztof Penderecki International Competition in Kraków, Poland. She was the artistic director of many commissioning projects including "Responses to Ives" and "Piano optophonique". Heather O'Donnell was featured in German filmmaker Alexander Kluge's cinematic representation of Marx's Das Kapital.
Heather O'Donnell began studying piano at the age of five and was influenced by various teachers and mentors, especially Charles Milgrim, Stephen Drury and Peter Serkin. She also worked closely with Yvonne Loriod, Emanuel Ax, and Claude Helffer. She was a professor in the Humanities Department at the Eastman School of Music, and was a faculty member at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at New England Conservatory in Boston, at the IArts School in Hangzhou, an artist-in-residence at the Indaba Festival in Rhodes University in South Africa and the Ostrava Days Festival in the Czech Republic, and has given master classes, workshops, and coachings at Manhattan School of Music, Cornell University, Columbia University, and Mannes College of Music. She served as a jury member at the Concours international d'piano d'Orléans.
In addition to her work as a pianist and teacher, she is a psychological counselor (MSc: Health and Prevention Psychology) in Musicians’ Health and Prevention and currently lectures on these topics at the Robert Schumann Conservatory in Düsseldorf. She lectured on musicians’ neurological dysfunction at the International Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) conference at Weill Medical Center in New York as well as at several other conferences, conservatories, and universities on the topics of musicians’ health, illness and injury. She lives in Düsseldorf with her husband, composer Oliver Schneller, and daughter, Auriane.