A tribute to Juliet McComas

November 20, 2020

By Grace Huenemann, Piano Department Chair and faculty member

Juliet McComas 3 thumbThe CMC community has lost one of its shining lights, Juliet McComas, performer, piano teacher extraordinaire, and friend.

In addition to being a long standing member of the piano faculty at CMC, Juliet maintained a private studio and was a Menuhin Scholar instructor at the Nueva School in Hillsborough. 

Juliet’s students were regularly selected for CMC scholarships and the honorary Spring Recital, as well as the Pursuit of Excellence concerts.

“Juliet was a brilliant musician and exceptional teacher, a great enthusiast for music and music education. She will be greatly missed.” Lilia Zheltova, Piano Faculty

“I heard her and her students perform, and her light shone forth in the music.” Polly Springhorn, CMC Grants Manager

Juliet (far left) with fellow performers at the Keyboard Marathon (2009).

In 2004, Juliet created the Annual Keyboard Marathon for CMC piano faculty, with the purpose of bringing the great works of piano literature to the general community.  She produced the first five of these events:  the 48 Preludes and Fugues of J.S. Bach in 2004 and 2005, the complete “Songs without Words” of Felix Mendelssohn in 2006 and 2007, and “Preludes” in 2008.  The Keyboard Marathon continues to this day.  Renamed in Juliet’s honor and dedicated to her, the Juliet McComas Keyboard Marathon will be a virtual event next April, on the theme of “Bold Spirits: Celebrating Women Composers.” 

Juliet with her students Rebecca Portnoy and Daniel Shin at a concert (2017).

“Juliet was the cream of the crop of CMC piano teachers, her commitment to pedagogy and high standards of excellence as a performer were always an inspiration to me. I always loved to hear her play – the subtlety and beauty of her tone and phrasing always transported me.”  Jennifer Peringer, Piano Faculty

“Juliet was a genius pianist, an incredible teacher, and such a leader in the CMC community. She will truly be missed.”  Anne Mitchell, Marketing Manager

Juliet’s performing career began early, when she debuted with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at age 13.  She performed with them again at 23, and also appeared with the Oakland Chamber Orchestra, the San Francisco Chamber Players, the Artea Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Northwest in Seattle. In 2007, at the PianoTexas International Academy and Festival, she was one of five actively performing teachers chosen to perform with the Fort Worth Symphony.   She was a four-time winner of Community Music Center’s Dr. Jess Shenson Faculty Artist Grant and the winner of the inaugural Faculty Concerto Competition in 2002, playing the Mozart Piano Concerto # 25 in C Major K. 503.  World renowned pianist Richard Goode coached Juliet and gave her his own cadenza for that performance.  She also coached with Leon Fleisher, Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and Lillian Kallir.  She earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Piano Performance at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, where her principal teacher was Dr. Konrad Wolff.


“She was a transcendent musician and will be missed.” Erik Pearson, Guitar Faculty

Juliet McComas 2
Juliet delighting in performing at the Keyboard Marathon with Betty Wong (2019).

We admired and loved Juliet for her talent and dedication, and we loved her all the more for her impish sense of humor and love of life.

“My family and I were flying up to Portland Oregon for the solar eclipse in the summer of 2017. As I was settling into my seat, I heard a familiar voice from the row in front of me: Hi Lauren. I looked around and saw Juliet grinning over at me!  … she was an experienced eclipse chaser!”  Lauren Cony, Piano Faculty

“Her devotion, professionalism and passion for music were exceptional.  I’ll miss Juliet tremendously, her extraordinary musicianship and her sense of humor.”  Matylda Rotkiewicz, Piano Faculty and Keyboard Marathon Producer.