Martha Renner was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She relocated to British Columbia, Canada in 1979, and in 1981 she began voice lessons at the Victoria Conservatory of Music under Selena James. She completed a Bachelor's degree in Germanic Studies at the University of Victoria in 1986. That same year she was awarded a full scholarship to study German at the Goethe Institute in Murnau, Bavaria.
Pursuing an interest in early music Ms. Renner began studies with Professor Alan Fast at McGill University in 1989. In the summer of 1990 she was a soloist in the Vancouver Early Music Society's Baroque workshop with Julianne Baird. Ms. Renner completed a Concert Diploma in voice performance with Lucile and Robert K. Evans at McGill University in 1995. As part of her training in opera, Ms. Renner attended the University of Miami, Summer Music Program in Salzburg, Austria, where she performed in the famous Schloss Leopoldskron, from "The Sound of Music.”
During her final two years at McGill University Ms. Renner performed the role of Juliette from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, Giulietta from les Contes d'Hoffmann and the role of Mustardseed from Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream with McGill University's Opera Studio. She premiered a Canadian work by Arlan N. Schultz, The Silver Moon for voice flute and piano, and participated in the National Association of Teachers of Singing - summer workshop, master-class, with Maureen Forrester, singing Mahler Lieder. This master-class was later broadcast on the CBC network.
Ms. Renner took first place in the third annual Franz Liszt Competition in Los Angeles and appeared as guest soloist at the awards ceremony concert in Pasadena, California. Other performances include the soprano solo for Mahler’s Symphony no. 2 with the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah and the Oratorio Edifice by Arlan Schultz.
Martha has premièred and performed many pieces of contemporary music, including Arlan Schultz’s String Quartet No. 1 (UCSD String Quartet), Alfred Schnittke’s Drei Madrigale (Noise at the Library, San Diego), Milhaud’s String Quartet Opus 3 (Musaeus), Harvey Sollberger’s Life Study, John Harbison’s Mirabai Songs (U of L Faculty Artists and Friends), Frederico’s Songs for Little Children (Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Music Society) and Night of the Four Moons (Noise at the Library) by George Crumb, Drumming by Steve Reich (Steven Schick and Red Fish Blue Fish Ensemble), and performed and recorded the title role of Alexina by Los Angeles composer Rene Coulombe. Martha recently premièred Ikos by Arlan Schultz with the Rubbing Stone ensemble on New Works Calgary’s After the Equinox concert series and has recorded the work for the Centre Disques label. She has also appeared with pianist Aleck Karis and many other pianists in recital, performing works by Franz Schubert and Gabriel Fauré as well as a variety of German, French, Russian and English art song. She has worked with such teachers and coaches as Margot Garrett, Maureen Forrester, Julianne Baird, Fiora Contino, Robert Evans, and Elizabeth Mannion.
Martha has been an active and dynamic voice teacher in the USA and Canada for over 25 years. Some of her students have been admitted to the most prestigious classical music training programs in the world (Interlochen, University of Lethbridge, etc.) and others have gone on to successful careers in popular music (Emilo Conde). She was adjunct professor of voice at Southwestern College in San Diego, California and an adjunct instructor of voice at UCSD in La Jolla, California before relocating to Lethbridge in 2002. Until presently she has maintained a small private studio in Lethbridge.
Singing is a very personal form of expression. Martha knows that singers are vulnerable artists and she meets each student at their own individual level, assessing where they are and what their needs are from a holistic perspective. Each student brings their own unique strengths to the art of singing and Martha approaches each lesson as an adventure in learning the art of singing.