With her vivid stage presence, passionately confident musicianship and extraordinary technique, the striking young Russian pianist Olga Kern has continued to captivate fans and critics alike. Across the United States each season, she is in demand for re-engagements and new appearances, and is quickly being recognized worldwide.
As a result of her performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001, Olga Kern won the Gold Medal and became the first woman to achieve this distinction in over 30 years. Olga’s second triumph came in New York City on May 4, 2004, with a highly acclaimed New York City recital debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. In an unprecedented turn of events eleven days later, on May 12, 2004, Olga Kern gave a recital in Isaac Stern Auditorium at the invitation of Carnegie Hall.
This season, Olga will perform all of the Rachmaninoff concerti in residence with the Colorado Symphony, have her debut with the New Jersey Symphony, and perform in several special event concerts with famed soprano Kathleen Battle. Summer 2009 brought Olga Kern her fourth re-engagement at the Ravinia Festival for Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony under the baton of James Conlon. She performed additionally at the Brevard Music Festival, International Keyboard Institute, and gave a recital and master classes in New York City.
In the 2008-2009 Season, Olga made her debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin and presented recitals in Washington, DC; La Jolla, CA and Fort Worth, TX, among other cities. After a critically acclaimed 35 city tour of the U.S. in spring 2007 with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Vladimir Spivakov, Ms. Kern opened the 2007-2008 season as guest soloist with the Colorado Symphony, performed with the Nashville Symphony and made her debut with the Vancouver Symphony. In May of 2008, Olga Kern toured North America with Maestro Vladimir Spivakov and the world renowned Moscow Virtuosi, presenting concerts in Boston; Chicago; New York; Philadelphia; Seattle; Washington, DC; and Toronto.
Olga Kern made her London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in November 2006 playing Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 with Leonard Slatkin conducting. She returned to London in August of 2008 for her Proms Debut playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin conducting. Recent European appearances have included a tour of Austria and Switzerland with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Maestro Antoni Wit, a tour of Germany with the Czech Philharmonic and Maestro Zdenek Maçal, performances with the orchestras of Copenhagen and Lyon, and recitals in Milan, Hamburg and Luxemburg. Ms. Kern made her South American debut with the Orquestra de São Paulo in March 2008. She recently made her Canadian debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and conductor Pinchas Zukerman in summer 2007, and she made her debut with the Taipei Symphony in June of 2006. She made her debut with the Seoul Philharmonic in October of 2008.
Miss Kern’s festival appearances are many. In June of 2008, she presented the Inaugural Concert of the Southeastern Piano Festival in Columbia, South Carolina. She is welcomed back frequently to the Interlochen Festival, Bravo! Vail Festival, and the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and James Conlon, after having made her debut there in 2002 with Christoph Eschenbach. She made her Hollywood Bowl debut in 2005 and returned to the Festival Casals in Puerto Rico in 2007, where she performed to a sold out venue. She has been a recent guest artist at several international music festivals, including the Klavier Ruhr and Kissinger Sommer festivals in Germany, the Radio-France Montpellier and Casadesus festivals in France, the Ohrid Festival in Macedonia, and the Busoni Festival in Italy.
In June of 2002 Olga Kern made an extensive tour of South Africa where she returned to tour again in February of 2005, performing all four Rachmaninoff piano concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, with her brother, Vladimir Kern, conducting, three times over a span of six days, an unprecedented feat undertaken especially for the South African audience. She is now Artistic Director of the Cape Town Festival in South Africa and returns there annually.
Ms. Kern has performed in many of the world's most important venues, including the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Symphony Hall in Osaka, Salzburger Festspielhaus, La Scala in Milan, Tonhalle in Zurich, and the Châtelet in Paris; she has appeared as soloist with the Bolshoi Theater, the Moscow Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Symphony, Russian National, China Symphony, Belgrade Philharmonic, La Scala Philharmonic, Torino Symphony, and Cape Town Symphony Orchestras. She has also performed with the Kirov Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev at the Kennedy Center.
Ms. Kern was born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff and began studying piano at the age of five. Winner of the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition when she was seventeen, she is a laureate of eleven international competitions and has toured throughout her native Russia, Europe, and the United States, as well as in Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. The recipient of an honorary scholarship from the President of Russia in 1996, she is a member of Russia’s International Academy of Arts. She began her formal training with acclaimed teacher Evgeny Timakin at the Moscow Central School and continued with Professor Sergei Dorensky at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where she was also a postgraduate student. She also studied with Boris Petrushansky at the acclaimed Accademia Pianistica Incontri col Maestro in Imola, Italy.
Ms. Kern records exclusively for Harmonia Mundi. Her most recent recording of Brahms Variations was released in September of 2007. Her discography includes recordings of Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Seaman (2003), a Rachmaninoff recording of Corelli Variations and other transcriptions (2004), a recital disk with works by Rachmaninoff and Balakirev (2005) and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Antoni Wit (2006). She was also featured in the award-winning documentary about the 2001 Cliburn Competition, Playing on the Edge.