Russian-American pianist Olga Kern is now recognized as one of her generation’s great artists. With her vivid stage presence, passionately confident musicianship, and extraordinary technique, the striking pianist continues to captivate fans and critics alike. Olga Kern was born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov and began studying piano at the age of five. She jumpstarted her US career with her historic Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth as the first woman to do so in more than thirty years.
Steinway Artist and first-prize winner of the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition at the age of seventeen, Kern is a laureate of many international competitions and tours throughout Russia, Europe, the United States, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. The first Olga Kern International Piano Competition is taking place in Albuquerque this November, where Kern will serve as Artistic Director and Jury Chair. Kern is a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Division of the Arts, as well as Jury Chairman of the Seventh Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition in June 2016.
In the 2016–2017 season, Kern premieres her first American concerto, the Barber Piano Concerto, with the Saint Louis Symphony and Leonard Slatkin. She will also appear with Pacific Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, and Copenhagen Philharmonic. Recital appearances include the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Virginia Arts Festival, Milan, and Glasgow.
Kern opened the Baltimore Symphony’s 2015–2016 centennial season with Marin Alsop. Other season highlights included returns to the Royal Philharmonic with Pinchas Zukerman, Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice with Giancarlo Guerrero, Rochester Philharmonic, and San Antonio Symphony, a month-long tour of South Africa for concerts with the Cape and KwaZulu Natal philharmonics, an Israeli tour with the Israel Symphony, solo recitals at Sarasota’s Van Wezel Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and the University of Kansas’ Lied Center, and recitals with Renée Fleming in Carnegie Hall and Berkeley.
In recent seasons, Kern has performed with Tokyo’s NHK Symphony, Orchestre National De Lyon, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, the symphonies of Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Nashville, Colorado, Madison, and Austin, as well as Detroit for Tchaikovsky Piano Concertos 1, 2, and 3, and gave recitals in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Louisville, and alongside Renée Fleming and Kathleen Battle. Kern’s performance career has brought her to many of the world’s most important venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Salzburger Festspielhaus, La Scala in Milan, Tonhalle in Zurich, and the Châtelet in Paris.
Kern’s discography includes Harmonia Mundi recordings of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Seaman (2003), her Grammy Nominated recording of Rachmaninov’s Corelli Variations and other transcriptions (2004), a recital disc with works by Rachmaninov and Balakirev (2005), Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Antoni Wit (2006), Brahms: Variations (2007), and a 2010 release of Chopin’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3 (2010). Most recently, Sony released their recording of Kern performing the Rachmaninov Sonata for Cello and Piano with cellist Sol Gabetta. She was also featured in the award-winning documentary about the 2001 Cliburn Competition, Playing on the Edge, as well as Olga’s Journey, Musical Odyssey in St. Petersburg and They Came to Play. In 2012, Olga and her brother, conductor and composer Vladimir Kern, co-founded the “Aspiration” foundation whose objective is to provide financial and artistic assistance to musicians throughout the world.