Krista Bennion Feeney is one of the leading American violinists, particularly in the field of chamber music and chamber orchestra leadership.
Her hometown of Menlo Park, CA, is on the San Francisco peninsula. She grew up while the area was earning its nickname of Silicon Valley. She developed rapidly as a violinist during her childhood, studying with local teachers Clarice Harelick and Anthony Doheney. She played solo concerto performances and in a student string quartet, performed in the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, and, at the age of 13, entered the preparatory department of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She went on to attend the Conservatory as a collegiate student, studying with Isadore Tinkleman and Stuart Canin.
Alexander Schneider, a member of the legendary Budapest Quartet who was conducting string seminars for promising young artists, heard her play and asked her to appear in his annual Christmas series with the New York String Orchestra, as soloist in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. He promoted her to concertmaster for the next year, and she appeared in Bach and Vivaldi violin concerti in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center concerts. Schneider also brought her to play as a soloist when he conducted the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and others.
Before graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory, she was a founder and first violinist of the Ridge String Quartet, in 1979 (named after the Ridge Winery of Santa Cruz, CA). After graduating from the Conservatory, she studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, under Schneider's older brother (and fellow Budapest Quartet member), Mischa Schneider, as well as Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. She joined the Brandenburg Ensemble, a New York-based Classical and Baroque string orchestra, where she was concertmaster and soloist.
After moving to New York, she joined the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, of which she is the director of chamber music series, and the St. Luke Chamber Orchestra, where she serves as co-concertmaster. As such, she has worked with conductors Franz Brüggen, André Previn, Roger Norrington, Charles Mackerras, and Robert Shaw. At Norrington's request, she has toured and recorded with him and the London Classical Players. Her recordings include the Bach violin concertos with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and the Dvorák piano quintets with the Ridge Quartet and Rudolf Firkusny. With a group called the Loma Mar Quartet, she performed and recorded in Liverpool, England, two string quartet works by Sir Paul McCartney and quartet arrangements of works the former Beatle wrote for his wife, Linda. In May 1999, she also premiered a concerto for violin and strings written for her by Eric Ewazen.
As an active session violinist, she has participated in Wynton Marsalis' Midnight Blues Standard album, Paul Simon's Songs from the Capeman, and Ten Thousand Maniacs' Blind Man's Zoo.
She has also appeared at many major music festivals, including Gidon Kremer's Lockenhaus Festival, both Spoleto Festivals (in Italy and Charleston, SC), and festivals in Helsinki, Santa Fe, and other cities.
She maintained her musical contact with the San Francisco Bay area, returning often to play concertos and chamber music appearances, including an appearance as guest concertmaster with the San Francisco Opera. In 1999, she accepted the position of music director of the San Francisco-based New Century Chamber Orchestra, a fifteen-member group that is one of America's leading conductorless chamber orchestras.
Krista Bennion Feeney lives with her husband, John Feeney (a double bass player), and their two sons near New York City.