Born of British parents in the relative isolation of the South African city of Durban, Renna Kellaway went to Amsterdam to study piano with Johannes Röntgen, and on his recommendation continued with Franz Osborn, a protégé of Artur Schnabel, in London.
As a soloist and chamber musician she has performed, broadcast and given masterclasses widely in the UK, Europe, the Far East, Australasia, the USA and South Africa. As juror she has joined the jury panels of many international piano competitions throughout Europe and further abroad including the Leeds, Dudley, Royal Over-Seas League; Viotti, Busoni (Italy); Ankara (Turkey); Munich, Robert Schumann, Tomasoni (Germany); Unisa (Pretoria); Vlado Perlemuter (France) and many others.
Teaching became a major commitment and led eventually to Renna joining the School of Keyboard Studies at the RNCM in 1980, becoming Head of the School in 1992. She left the College in 2001. Her students have gone on to win awards and prizes, and many now follow distinguished international careers as soloists and chamber musicians. In 1995 Renna founded the biennial Glories of the Keyboard Festival at the RNCM and introduced an intercollegiate Piano Trio competition in 1999.
In 1985 Renna founded Lake District Summer Music. Renna was awarded the MBE in 2009 for services to music and in 2012 was honoured by Cumbria Life as the winner of its Lifetime Achievement award. Renna Kellaway was married to Sir John Manduell CBE (1928-2017). The family moved north with four small children when John left the BBC following a distinguished career and becoming founder of ‘The Music Programme’ (now Radio 3). He became first Director of Music at Lancaster University, followed shortly after by his appointment as founding Principal of the RNCM.