Meet Jacqueline Schwab, a folk and classical improvisational pianist who plays "gorgeously spare piano" (The Boston Globe) yet "sounds as if she has an orchestra at her fingertips" (Sing Out). Chosen by the renowned Ken Burns for numerous public television documentaries due to the emotional expression in her playing, Jacqueline has performed on the soundtracks for the Grammy award-winning Civil War, the Emmy award-winning Baseball and Mark Twain, among others. She has performed at the White House for President Clinton in 1997 to celebrate Burns' Lewis and Clark series and also at the Smithsonian in 2000 celebrate its exhibition on the Presidency. In May, 2009, she accompanied Scottish singer Jean Redpath, on the Late Show with David Letterman.



Jacqueline's signature style defies easy categorization, fitting somewhere in the crossover between folk, traditional, classical and new age music. Although many people connect improvisation with jazz, Jacqueline's inspirations are traditional music of England, Scotland, Ireland, and America, blues, vintage tangos, Bach's dance suites, nineteenth-century parlor piano, and the turn-of-the-twentieth-century sounds of Satie, Debussy and Bartok for starters. In the unique Third Stream program at New England Conservatory of Music, from which Jacqueline received a Bachelor of Music degree with honors, she was encouraged to meld different musical traditions into a personal style. She has "… an uncanny sensitivity to the moods and proprieties of music from other eras," wrote New England Folk Almanac reviewer Scott Alarik.

Jacqueline's solo recording Mark Twain's America - A Portrait in Music (on Dorian) recreates the sounds of nineteenth-century American parlor music - Stephen Foster and Civil War songs, hymns, spirituals, and ballroom dances. Columnist Eric Zorn, of the Chicago Tribune, wrote that he had it "going non-stop on the stereo." Schwab's Down Came an Angel (also on Dorian) features meditations on American Christmas music, including unusual Appalachian carols and South Carolina sea island spirituals. "One of the most beautiful and heartfelt Christmas discs to come along in a very long time." - All Music Guide. Mad Robin, her first solo recording, contains lyrical reflections on English dance tunes, mood music for dancers and non-dancers alike. "(This recording has) the jazz/classical improvisational spirit of Keith Jarrett and the touch of George Winston." - New England Folk Almanac.

Jacqueline performs solo piano concerts of vintage American and traditional English and Scottish music, creating the intimate feeling of an old-fashioned parlor setting. A Lexington Minuteman solo concert review said, "(Her playing was) full of colors and introspection which drew the listener into a musical reverie from which it was hard to return." She also performs traditional Scottish music with the cello/piano duo New Rigged Ship, with cellist Reinmar Seidler and vintage American music with alto saxophonist Willie Sordillo.

Although many are familiar with the elegiac qualities in Jacqueline's soundtrack work, some have also experienced her music's more rousing side. Jacqueline has toured the United States and England, inspiring people on the country dance floor through her performances with the Bare Necessities group and as a dance caller. She grew up (or tried to) dancing international folkdances and singing Israeli and Balkan songs, before turning her attention to English, Scottish, Irish and American traditional music. Along the way, she attended workshops at Berea Christmas Dance School and Pinewoods dance camps, great crossroads of traditional dance and music. Now she enjoys sharing that knowledge by teaching workshops on dance music and improvisation.

Jacqueline has performed and recorded with many traditional and folk musicians, among them: Scottish fiddler Laura Risk, singer Jean Redpath (on A Prairie Home Companion), fiddler Alasdair Fraser, cellist Abby Newton, glass armonica player Dean Shostak, fiddler Andrea Hoag, singer-songwriter Dillon Bustin, and singer Jeanne Morrill. For her work with Ken Burns, she has also collaborated with fiddler Jay Ungar, bassist and guitarist Molly Mason, fiddler Matt Glaser, whistle player L.E. McCullough and others. She has played on over forty recordings.

Jacqueline has also managed Pinewoods Camp in Plymouth, Mass., traded foreign exchange for the Shawmut Bank (many moons ago), worked for an organization fostering community land trusts, played muselar (a type of virginals) in a Renaissance band, lived in England, danced on a morris team, sung and danced in the Christmas Revels, and generally loved being part of the worldwide traditional dance and music community. She also is a beginner at yoga and plays a mean game of Boggle. She lives in Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and is married to a UU minister, who is also a lawyer and an avid concertina, fiddle and banjo player.