Ramona Pansegrau has been music director for Kansas City Ballet for 17 years. She came to Kansas City via the Boston and Tulsa ballet companies, where she held the positions of principal pianist, solo pianist, music director and conductor.
She has been called one of the best ballet pianists in the world. Robert Joffrey said of her ballet class, “The perfect music for every combination.” She was principal pianist/solo pianist for 10 years at Boston Ballet and tenured keyboard for the Boston Ballet Orchestra for 15 years. Ms. Pansegrau was on the faculty at Aspen/Snowmass Dance Festival for 11 years and was music director for the ballet school at Jacob’s Pillow for 16 years. She was music director for Tulsa Ballet for nine years, and conductor of the Tulsa Symphony orchestra for ballet performances before coming to Kansas City Ballet.
As a piano soloist for ballet, she has performed the piano concertos of Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Gottschalk, Hindemith, and Chopin to name a few, performing with many symphony orchestras, including the Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra. Of her performances, the Boston Phoenix stated, “the music…brought to sublime heights by pianist Ramona Pansegrau, allow[ing] you to experience the music anew each time.” Her arrangements of ballets are now in the repertory of the Western Australia Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Tulsa Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet West, the San Carlo Opera House in Italy, NBA Ballet in Tokyo, Japan, and the Finnish National Ballet. Her edited and compiled score of Penderecki, Gorecki, and others for the ballet Jekyll & Hyde, a ballet by Val Caniparoli, premiered in Finland in 2020 to great acclaim, and she will conduct the American premiere in Kansas City in October 2023. Her most recent score for the full-length ballet Aladdin and the Magic Carpet, with choreographer Jill Bahr premiered April 2022.
Ms. Pansegrau conducted the premiere of the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra with a full-length Sleeping Beauty, starring Italian ballerina Viviana Durante. Her performances were hailed as “giving life to the music and energizing the dancers.” Conducting for the Ballet Across America Festival, The Washington Post stated, “There is a delicious tension between the outpouring of the strings conducted by Ms. Pansegrau and the hushed anxiety of the dancing.” The Kansas City Star said Ms. Pansegrau’s Symphony No. 5 by Gustav Mahler was conducted with “heartrending sensitivity.” The Orlando Sentinel commented regarding Swan Lake, “…Pansegrau, music director for the Kansas City Ballet, helps Tchaikovsky’s music breathe with emotion reflecting what’s onstage….That gorgeous sound is something I’ll remember.” Regarding Don Quixote, they said, “As conducted by Ramona Pansegrau, the Philharmonic captured each bit of Spanish flair in Ludwig Minkus’ score, as well as the longing in the characters’ hearts. The Phil’s contribution to the electricity in the air can’t be overstated.” Ms. Pansegrau’s other ongoing engagements include guest conductor for Orlando Ballet and performing with the Opus 76 string quartet.