Pianist Jeffrey Panko is a musician whose versatility of style and genre, encompassing repertoire from Bach to the contemporary, is presented with poetic grace, technical aplomb and a large color palate. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Panko began his formal musical education at the age of six with his grandmother, Lorraine Jagodzinski. Receiving degrees in Piano Performance from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (studying piano with Lydia Frumkin) and the DePaul University School of Music (studying piano with pianist Dmitry Paperno), he was also selected as a scholarship student to the Tanglewood Music Festival (studying piano with Anthony di Bonaventura and chamber music with Joel Smirnoff) and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria (studying piano with Alexis Golovin). Currently working with his mentor, Chicago Symphony Orchestra pianist Mary Sauer as well as Dr. Robert Holst, he earned top prize awards in competitions including the Society of American Musicians’ Piano Competition (Chicago) and the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition (New York).
Following a concert tour of Poland where Panko was honored by the United States with the title of Cultural Ambassador, he was asked by the City of Chicago to present a Chopin recital for the visiting Lech Walesa and other Polish dignitaries, culminating with two Command Performances for Polish Prime Ministers visiting the United States. Panko has also been featured in performances at Carnegie Hall, Weill Hall, Lincoln Center Library, WQXR Radio (New York), is a frequent performer on WFMT Radio (Chicago), and has appeared in Symphony Center playing the music of Steven Sondheim for Mr. Sondheim.
Jeffrey Panko has appeared as soloist under the baton of Stephen Alltop, Jed Gaylin, Robert Holst, Timothy McCullom, John Paynter, Phil Simmons, Meng Kong Tham, Eric Townell and John Bruce Yeh and has performed in recital with such internationally acclaimed artists as Denyce Graves, Christopher Robertson, Mary Stolper, members of the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and the Washington Opera Orchestra. He has also served as accompanist and master class pianist to Dalton Baldwin, Mathieu Dufour, Judith Haddon, Donald Peck, Ned Rorem, Allan Stone and Giorgio Tozzi. Recent performances of note for Panko included participation in the WFMT Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle presentations and his 3rd appearance in Carnegie Hall in February 2011 as collaborative pianist and soloist with soprano Natalie Mann.
For nearly twelve years Panko served as Musical Director for the Primavera Singers at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. Currently he serves as Minister of Music and as Artistic Director of the Music at Bethel Concert Series for Bethel United Church of Christ in Elmhurst, Illinois, and is a member of the Chicago based contemporary music group MAVerick Ensemble.
New Music School piano faculty member Jeffrey Panko is thrilled to have the opportunity to explore two of his greatest passions in life, his deep love of music and his strong belief in the necessity of a solid musical education for our children and youth. He believes that any person can successfully learn to play the piano and his philosophy of teaching embraces the concept of structured learning around the specific talents and needs of each individual student. A concert pianist based in the Chicagoland area with over 20 years of private teaching experience, Panko willingly brings his depth of musical knowledge as soloist, collaborative pianist, professional teacher and coach as well as possessing a unique ability to successfully interact with his students to enhance each individual student’s musical and pianistic development.