Skip to main content
Jennifer Culp headshot


Office 609


Courses Taught

Applied Lessons

Cello Performance Class

Chamber Music: Strings and Piano


MM, New England Conservatory of Music

BM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music


Kronos Quartet, 1998-2005

Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

Dunsmuir Piano Quartet, 1986–1998

Awards and Distinctions

Winner, Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance, 2003

"Musicians of the Year", Musical America, 2003

David Bowie in Carnegie Hall, 2002


What is your hometown?

San Francisco, CA

What is your favorite recording?

Current favorite... Clara Haskil Edition (17-CD set).

What are you passionate about outside of music?

Hiking and the great old outdoors — far, far away from city lights.

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?

“How can I meet the Dalai Lama and why is he always laughing?” (And I did get to meet His Holiness, once)!

What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue music as a career?

There was no specific, defining moment. From the age of three, when I first started piano, I was hooked. I didn't want anything else (except thin mint ice cream or banana cream pie). I grew up in a very musical environment — lots of jazz and classical music.

What was a turning point in your career?

Being mentored by great, elder musicians as a student and young professional. I had the privilege to work with Eugene Lehner and Sandor Vegh. They worked directly with many important composers, including  Bartók, Webern, Schoenberg, and Kodály. Once one makes that connection to the music and its history, there's no going back!

If you weren't a musician or teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?

I would always be a musician at heart — but, if I weren't? I would be on vacation, hiking the Na Pali Coast in Kauai.

What is your daily practice routine?

The routine is constantly changing, but these days I find myself beginning with Bach at the keyboard, jazzy bowings with scales, sight-reading, and finally getting to the rep that needs to be learned for upcoming concerts.

If you could play only three composers for the rest of your life, who would they be?

J.S. Bach, Schubert, and The Beatles.

What are your most important collaborations?

Performing with the late Justin Blasdale (pianist); Lincoln Center performance with Tom Waits; Moscow performance in Tchaikovsky Hall of all four Schnittke Quartets and the Piano Quintet (with Irina Schnittke) in one evening.

What recordings can we hear you on?

Berg: Lyric Suite, Nonesuch Records

Thomas Sleeper: Four Concerti, Albany Records

Requiem for a Dream, Nonesuch Records

Stephen Hartke: King of the Sun, New World Records

Healing the Divide: A Concert for Peace and Reconciliation


Jennifer Culp, cellist, is a well-traveled California native, and has enjoyed a rich and diversified musical career. She has been professor of cello and chamber music at SFCM since 2007. Teaching and performing at 2 favorite summer festivals  Kneisel Hall and Zephyr International Chamber Music Festival aligned music with nature. As an avid chamber musician , Culp has performed with many inspired musicians including members of the Juilliard, Cleveland and Amadeus Quartets, Sandor Vegh, Walter Trampler, Laurence Lesser, Gil Kalish, Felix Galimir, Seymour Lipkin, Menahem Pressler, Dawn Upshaw, Irina Schnittke, Tom Waits and the Romanian Gypsy Band 'Taraf de Haidouks'. Always keenly interested in new music, Ms. Culp was the cellist of Kronos Quartet from 1998 to 2005 performing at such venues as Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, WOMAD festival in New Zealand, and London's Barbican Center. KQ was named Musical America's 2003 "Musicians of the Year" and won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance of Berg's Lyric Suite in 2004. Through close collaboration with living composers, numerous world premieres have been recorded on Nonesuch, New Albion, CRI, Sony, Albany and New World Records.   Ms. Culp has also performed and toured with the following ensembles - Dunsmuir Piano Quartet, Philadelphia String Quartet, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The haunted world of Cornwall, England was visited for 7 years to participate in the International Seminar at Prussia Cove for Open Chamber Music - Mentors Sandor Vegh  and Gyorgy Kurtag inspired non-stop music readings late into the night.