Kenny Werner Named Artistic Director of Performance Wellness Institute

Nick Balkin
October 15, 2014
Press release
Kenny Werner

Berklee has appointed world-class pianist/composer and alumnus Kenny Werner as artistic director of the college's Performance Wellness Institute (PWI), a new program that helps students develop and maintain healthy performances practices.

Werner is known for his groundbreaking book Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within, a guide to distill the emotional, spiritual, and psychological aspects of an artist's life. Today, it is one of the most widely read books on music and improvisation, inspiring thousands of musicians to do inner work on the mind, body, and soul to unlock their talent and potential. This fall, Werner will be offering master classes on improvisation and performance techniques over the course of eight residencies.

"The PWI will help students create wellness in how they approach their instruments, and offer techniques on how to practice with complete focus and play with total freedom," says Werner, who plans to model courses after Effortless Mastery. "The aim of the curriculum is to inspire students find deeper purpose in their music so they can reach their full creative potential. Musicians will realize that their wellness is also the shortest route to their virtuosity."

Born in Brooklyn, New York, and then growing up in Oceanside, Long Island, Werner began playing music at a young age. In high school and first years of college, he studied classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music. His natural instinct for improvisation led him to Berklee in 1970, where he studied with renowned piano teacher Madame Chaloff. From Boston, he traveled to Brazil, where he met and studied with pianist Joao Assis Brasil, whose guidance helped him form the concept behind Effortless Mastery.

He formed the Kenny Werner Trio with drummer Tom Rainey and bassist Ratzo Harris in 1981. The group toured the U.S. and Europe and recorded four albums over the next 14 years. In 2000, he formed a new trio with drummer Ari Hoenig and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller. They played together for nearly a decade and released three albums. In 2010, Werner received the Guggenheim Fellowship Award for his work No Beginning No End, a musical exploration of tragedy and loss that features more than 70 musicians.