Bill Brennan

Biography Bill Brennan

Bill Brennan

Bill Brennan
is Assistant Professor of Instrumental Conducting at Memorial University of Newfoundland. His expertise as a pianist, percussionist, composer and producer can be heard on some 100 albums to date. His album of 2006 Solo Piano received nominations for MusicNL and ECMA “Instrumental Album of the Year”. His album Solo Piano 2 won the MusicNL Instrumental album of the year in 2008. His newest CD with Andrea Koziol was released in 2019, entitled I’ll Be Seeing You. It garnered the MusicNL Jazz and Blues Award.

Brennan has been musical director for Tada’s productions of Chicago, White Christmas, Rocky Horror Show, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Rock of Ages and Disney in Concert. He was musical director and composer for Building Jerusalem, an award-winning play by Michael Redhill (Best new production, Dora Awards, 2000). He has also performed on film soundtracks for The Ice Storm (directed by Ang Lee) and Antwone Fisher (directed by Denzel Washington)

Brennan has recorded with the Juno-nominated Oliver Schroer, ambient-pop-rocker Andy Stochansky, guitarist Kevin Breit, film composer Mychael Danna, and with fellow Newfoundlanders Sandy Morris and Patrick Boyle. He has backed up such greats as Cab Calloway, Placido Domingo and Dizzy Gillespie.

Always in demand as a folk and jazz pianist, Brennan performs regularly with his own projects. He has performed across North America and around the world: Indonesia, Austria, Germany, France, Japan, Norway, the Czech Republic, England, Scotland, Portugal and Switzerland.

Over the past three decades, Brennan has been involved with some of the best-known organizations in Canadian culture. He has performed with the National Ballet and the Canadian Opera Company. He was musical director of CBC’s beloved Vinyl Café (hosted by Stuart MacLean), and a documentary composer for David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things. He has produced numerous albums, including recordings for Lady Cove Women’s Choir, Renee Marquis, Brad Jefford and Shelley Neville.

Nationally and internationally, his work has been formally recognized through a number of prestigious awards and commissions, including the Freddie Stone Memorial Award (1999). He has been commissioned to compose for contemporary music performers including flautist Ellen Waterman, and percussionists Romano DiNillo and Ed Squires. Several of these works have been premiered at the International Sound Symposium.

More than 30 years of relentless experience have garnered Brennan a solid reputation as a performer, composer and arranger of contemporary classical, jazz, folk and world music — always exploring, always open to new ideas, Brennan’s talents resist classification. Geoff Chapman of the Toronto Star says: “Brennan … is a central figure in this country’s music.”

Brennan was named the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Artist of the Year for 2006. For many years he conducted the Memorial University Jazz Ensemble. He now directs the Memorial University’s Wind Ensemble and Gamelan Ensemble.

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