Xenia Pestova Bennett
Xenia Pestova Bennett is an innovative performer and educator. Described as “a powerhouse of contemporary keyboard repertoire” (Tempo), “stunning” (Wales Arts Review), “ravishing” (Pizzicato) and “remarkably sensuous” (New Zealand Herald) in the international press, she has earned a reputation as a leading interpreter of uncompromising repertoire alongside masterpieces from the past.
Xenia’s commitment to promoting music by living composers inspired her to commission dozens of new works and collaborate with major innovators in contemporary music. Her widely acclaimed recordings of core piano duo works of the Twentieth Century by John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen with Pascal Meyer are available on four CDs for Naxos Records. Her evocative solo debut of premiere recordings for the Innova label titled “Shadow Piano” was described as a “terrific album of dark, probing music” by the Chicago Reader. Xenia’s own compositions are available on Diatribe Records and TakuRoku. Her full-length album “Atomic Legacies” features Ligeti Quartet and the Magnetic Resonator Piano. Highlighted in Bandcamp’s “Best of Contemporary Classical” in 2020, the album was described as “boldly conceived and brilliantly realised… a foretaste of things to come” in The Wire, “intoxicating, extraordinarily eerie and evocative” (Bernard Clarke, RTE LyricFM), “melancholy… heart-swells and proper feelings” (The Quietus) and “a nuclear musical reaction that produces that great, irradiated beauty” (Tom Service, BBC Radio 3). Xenia’s subsequent digital EP “Atonal Electronic Chamber Music for Cats” takes an unexpected turn-around, using vintage synthesizers in an exploration of 1990’s techno-art-pop nostalgia.
Past projects include commissioning and performing in Arlene Sierra’s “Urban Birds” at the Southbank Centre (with Kathleen Supove and Sarah Nicolls, recorded for BBC Radio 3 and available on NMC Records), burning a piano with Annea Lockwood in Wales, instigating and performing in the World Toy Piano Summit at Festival Rainy Days in Luxembourg (with Margaret Leng Tan and others), designing cutting-edge digital musical instruments at McGill University and collaborating on a new digital version of the analogue electronic processing required for Karlheinz Stockhausen’s epic masterwork “Mantra”. Xenia is a Schoenhut toy piano concert artist and has championed many new works for this instrument.
Following childhood music education in Western Siberia, Xenia’s studies took place with Judith Clark (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Philip Mead and Ian Pace (London), Hakon Austbo (Amsterdam), Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen (Avignon and Paris), Louise Bessette (Montreal) and Sara Laimon at McGill University, where she was awarded a Doctor of Music degree in 2009. She received the unanimous First Prize at the Xavier Montsalvatge International Piano Competition in Girona, Spain and prizes at the Messiaen International Piano Competition in Paris and the KeriKeri National Piano Competition of New Zealand. From 2011-2015 Xenia was the Head of Performance at Bangor University, where she founded and directed the highly successful INTER/actions Festival and Symposium for interactive electronic music.
In addition to her career as an interpreter, Xenia is active as an improviser, composer and educator. She is a fully-certified and insured yoga teacher and breathwork coach, completing a 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training qualification led by Eleonora Ramsby-Herrera in 2019, Yin/Yang Yoga and Mindfulness (primary and secondary levels amounting to 100 hours certified by Yoga Alliance) with Sarah Powers in 2018 and Oxygen Advantage® functional breathing instructor training with Patrick McKeown in 2021. Since 2015, she lectures in music at the University of Nottingham. She also provides coaching to individuals and organisations on anxiety management using movement, breathwork and focus interventions.