Patricia Prattis Jennings (b. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 16, 1941) is a native of Pittsburgh. She was the first African American woman to be awarded a full contract by a major American symphony orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, in 1966, where she was the orchestra's Principal Keyboardist, playing the piano, harpsichord, organ and celesta, until her retirement in 2006.
Jennings made her solo debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1956, at the age of fourteen, performing Mozart's "Coronation" Concerto under music director William Steinberg. In 1977 she joined music director Andre Previn in Mozart four-hand sonatas on the premier program of the PBS series "Previn and the Pittsburgh." For the opening of that series' second season, in 1978, Jennings and Previn performed the Mozart Conce
rto for Two Pianos.
During the Pittsburgh Symphony's 1987 international tour, Jennings gained critical acclaim playing the Gershwin Concerto in F as the featured soloist at the Hong Kong, Osaka, and Edinburgh festivals.
Jennings has also appeared as a soloist with the Baltimore, Houston, San Antonio, Pacific, Youngstown, Wheeling and Westmoreland symphony orchestras and the Erie Philharmonic.
In 1977 she performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" with legendary clarinetist Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall, New York; Wolftrap, in Virginia; and the Dorothy Chandler and Concord pavilions in California, in a special arrangement for small ensemble conducted by conductor/composer Morton Gould.
Jennings is one of the duo pianists on the award-winning Pittsburgh Symphony recording of Saint Saens "Carnival of the Animals" on the Philips label.
Jennings holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University where she was a student of Harry Franklin. Other teachers have included Natalie Hinderas, Sidney Foster, and Sheila Paige. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Phi Kappa Phi honorary fraternity.
From 1988 to 1994 Jennings was the editor and publisher of Symphonium, a newsletter which focused on the accomplishments of African American symphony musicians in the United States. She has written extensively for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Symphony magazine and other publications. Her online presence, Pat's Ponderings, can be found at http://patsponderings.squarespace.com.
She is on the board of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony and the Pittsburgh Concert Society, the advisory board of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, and she is a member of the Blue Ribbon Committee for the Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall's capital campaign for which she organized a highly successful benefit concert in June 2008.
She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She is a Steinway artist and a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania.
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