Rebecca Peets, For The Miami Student

Pansy Chang, Miami University’s very own cello professor has performed in Europe, North America and Israel, all with Pink Martini; not the drink, but the band with which she plays. On Dec. 19, the group will perform on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

“I first started playing with the group in 1998, while I was a member of the Oregon Symphony in Portland, Oregon,” Chang said. “I have been performing with them on and off for the past 13 years, and my husband, Dan Faehnle, performs with the group as well.”

Chang performs as the cellist for Pink Martini, which is also the subject she teaches at Miami. Chang has taught at Miami for 11 years, while also playing as a soloist, chamber musician and orchestral musician.

“Knowing that Pansy is such a successful and well traveled performer is a great motivator,” Piper Redman, one of Chang’s students, said. “Pink Martini is a really well known group and it’s exciting to know that you are learning from someone that has so much musical experience and talent.”

Other TV shows Chang has appeared on with Pink Martini are The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  

“We’ve also performed with many major U.S. orchestras: Boston, San Francisco, Houston, Seattle, National Symphony, Dallas, Los Angeles Phil, at some of the biggest venues, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher, Town Hall all in New York and Hollywood Bowl,” Chang said.

Chang has also had performances with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC, the Oregon Symphony and many other regional orchestras in the Washington DC and Portland areas. She has even given master classes at the Beijing Conservatory in China and at Yale School of Music.

“It’s hard to keep up with all the famous and talented people Pansy has performed with,” Redman said. “Watching Pansy perform with Pink Martini on Jay Leno will be awesome. They are a fun group to watch and listen to so I’m really looking forward to their performance.”

Chang earned her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Southern California and her Master of Music degree at the Yale University School of Music.

“Pansy is an inspiration to not only the cello studio, but the whole music department,” Jeni Berecek, one of Chang’s students, said. “I originally auditioned at Miami University because I knew that Pansy is an amazing teacher and musician. She has been a huge part of my life for the past four years and has made my college experience a positive one.”

Prior to joining the Miami University music faculty, she served for two years as Assistant to Professor Aldo Parisot and Lecturer in Violoncello at Yale University School of Music, and for four years as a member of the Oregon Symphony.

“Everyone looks to Pansy for motivation and brutal honesty. She is an intense person, but the good kind of intense,” Berecek said. “She knows how far to push her students and we all respect her for never accepting anything less than our best.”

Chang was awarded a Fulbright Grant for study in the United Kingdom and was a semi-finalist in the Leonard Rose International Cello Competition.

“Pansy always puts a big emphasis on performance excellence. She knows that her students will respect her if she models excellence in her own performances,” Berecek said.

“We will be returning to LA and playing at Disney Hall for New Years,” Chang said.

“I remember a few years ago she gave a recital here and everyone was blown away by her stage presence and amazing musicianship,” Berecek said.

Be watching for Pink Martini and Chang on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Dec. 19.