Following undergraduate studies at DePaul University with harpsichordist Roger Goodman and organist Jerome Butera, editor Paul Cienniwa received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University, where he was a student of Richard Rephann. He has also studied harpsichord with Peter Watchorn, John Whitelaw and David Schrader. As a scholar, he been awarded Belgian American Educational Foundation and Fulbright grants, and his musicological articles have appeared in American and European journals, including Early Music and Ad Parnassum.
Paul Cienniwa's harpsichord playing has been called "expert" (Boston EDGE), and the Boston Musical Intelligencer wrote that "not everyone can capture the Baroque French style as Cienniwa does." For his recording of the Bach Viola da Gamba Sonatas with cellist Audrey Sabattier-Cienniwa, KBAQ radio (Phoenix, AZ) called his ability to accompany "spot-on...perfect". His recording with Grammy Award-winning uilleann piper Jerry O'Sullivan was called "drop-dead gorgeous" and named one of the top ten Irish traditional albums of 2010 by The Irish Echo.
In November 2010, he performed the complete Bach Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord with renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine on Chicago’s WFMT radio. Upcoming events include Francis Poulenc’s Concert Champêtre with the New Bedford Symphony (MA) and the release of a two-CD set of the music of Larry Thomas Bell on Albany Records.
In 2009, he was music director for Boston Opera Collaborative's acclaimed production of Handel's Alcina. As conductor, he leads Sine Nomine choral ensemble and the chorus at Framingham State University. As organist and conductor, he was music director at the historic First Church in Boston from 2006 to 2017 before becoming music director at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Delray Beach, FL.
From 2003-2010, he led Newport Baroque Orchestra (later Newport Baroque) in works from Arne to Zelenka, including performances of Bach cantatas and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas and collaborations with the Providence Singers, the Tufts Chamber Choir and Providence College. With grants from Target, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, the Apple Pickers Foundation and private donors, Newport Baroque Orchestra gave eight successful concert seasons of baroque music on period instruments.
Originally from Niles, IL, Paul Cienniwa began his keyboard studies at age six. In his teen years, he played thrash guitar with the Evanston, IL punk band Malicious Intent, followed by seven years as keyboardist with the innovative Chicago-based Irish group Baal Tinne.
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