Musician Spotlight: Peggy Stern

May 1, 2024

Peggy Stern is a pianist with a rich and varied career as a musician, having toured with many of the jazz greats and played in many prominent jazz festivals, both domestically and abroad. Since coming to Texas 10 years ago, Peggy has adopted the western swing style, adding to her already eclectic embrace of musical disciplines. Perhaps best known as a composer, Peggy has four tunes presented in the Real Book.

What inspired you to start playing music?

I began playing as a small child; I actually wrote my first tune at the age of 6 but then was encouraged to become a pianist, later being educated at the Eastman School of Music (BM), and New England Conservatory (MM). I have been a musician my entire life. There was never any doubt in my mind of what I would be doing when I grew up, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Who are some of your musical inspirations

Bach, Ravel, Brahms, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner, Tito Puente, AC Jobim, Bill Evans, Arvo Part, Jim Hall, Merle Haggard, Bob Wills, Hank Williams, Chaka Khan, Irving Berlin – and just about everyone I hear play music! It would take me all day to mention everyone who inspires me!

What was the injury that brought you to MTF and how did the injury affect your music?

Dr. Barron first treated me in New York City for injuries that were the connections at the wrist of my thumbs which he said was a combination of bad luck (genes) and overuse. After I got to Texas it was becoming too painful to play and he performed surgeries on both hands, which I know gave me a very long career extension! In 2021, during the pandemic, I volunteered to share more about my injuries in MTF’s Musician Monday series. Then more recently, about a year and a half ago, I fell on a hike and fractured my left wrist. With MTF’s referral, Dr. Barron performed another amazing surgery at a substantial discount, and I continued to play through my recovery and subsequently, that injury healed completely.

What was your experience with receiving care through MTF and your recovery afterward?

Dr. Barron and the team at MTF and ATXOrtho were so sympathetic and empathetic. Also, the nurse at Pinnacle Surgery Center lives up the street from me, and we are friends of course. I am always sending my friends and colleagues to the doctor I trust the most!

What’s coming up for you?

I have two grants from the City of Austin that are coming to fruition in the next six weeks: The first is my (20-year-old) Festival, which began as The Wall Street Jazz Festival in Kingston, NY, and continues in Austin as LuluFest – where the traditions meet the progressives and all the leaders are women – coming up May 11th. LuluFest is in its 7th year and we are very excited about this one “The Art of the Duo”. Then on June 18th I will be presenting a brand new suite of music featuring flute, violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, and percussion at Monks Jazz Club. This concert will be recorded live and streamed. Those are my two most exciting presentations, and I’m so grateful to Austin City for its grants program, enabling musicians like me to go out on a creative limb (hopefully no broken ones). I feel lucky to participate with the wonderful and necessary support of the Musician Treatment Foundation.

Where can people find out more about you and your music?

For more info on LuluFest, visit our website and @LuLuFestATX. Folks can find my website here and announcements of gigs on Facebook.

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