Joan Jeanrenaud was born and raised on a small farm outside Memphis, Tennessee. She started playing the cello at age 11 and began studying with Peter Spurbeck the following year. As a teenager, Jeanrenaud - who was the principal cellist of the Memphis Youth Symphony - developed an interest in contemporary music. She continued her studies with Fritz Magg at Indiana University, where she was a founding member of the IU Contemporary Music Ensemble. A highlight of her college years was her participation as a Fellow at Tanglewood, where she was principal cellist with the Festival Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein. After earning a Bachelor of Music degree at Indiana University, she lived in Geneva, Switzerland to study with Pierre Fournier.
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