Now recognized as one of her generation’s great pianists, Olga Kern’s career began one decade ago with her award-winning gold-medal performance at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001. Her second catapulting triumph came on May 4, 2004, with a highly acclaimed New York City recital debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. In an unprecedented turn of events, Kern gave a second recital eight days later in Isaac Stern Auditorium at the invitation of Carnegie Hall.
With her vivid stage presence, passionately confident musicianship and extraordinary technique, the striking young Russian pianist continues to captivate fans and critics alike. This season, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Van Cliburn Foundation will honor Kern’s Cliburn victory 10 years ago with a co-presentation of her talents in March and April 2011.
Also this season, Olga will perform with the symphonies of Detroit, Anchorage, Nashville, Dallas, Virginia, St. Louis, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Madison, Johnson City, Syracuse and Colorado. She has also been invited to perform at Longwood Gardens, Sanibel Music Festival, Winter Park Bach Festival, Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and Drake University. In January 2012, Kern will undertake a special North American recital tour with violinist Vladimir Spivakov, their first chamber music collaboration outside Europe.
In the 2009-2010 season, she performed all of the Rachmaninoff concerti in residence with the Colorado Symphony, made her debut with the New Jersey Symphony, and performed in several special event concerts with famed soprano Kathleen Battle. Summer 2009 brought 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 also performed at the Brevard Music Festival, International Keyboard Institute, and gave a recital and master classes in New York City.
In 2008-2009, Kern made her debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin, presenting recitals in Washington, D.C.; La Jolla, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas. After a critically acclaimed 35-city tour of the U.S. in spring 2007 with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Spivakov, 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.
Kern made her London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in November 2006 playing Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1, with Slatkin conducting. She returned to London in August 2008 for her Proms debut, playing Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Slatkin conducting.
Recent European appearances 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. Kern made her South American debut with the Orquestra de São Paulo in March 2008 and her Canadian debut with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and conductor Pinchas Zukerman in summer 2007.
Kern’s festival appearances include 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.
Kern toured South Africa in June 2002 and returned in February 2005, performing all four Rachmaninoff piano concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, with her brother, Vladimir Kern, conducting an unprecedented three times over a span of six days. She is now Artistic Director of the Cape Town Festival and returns there annually.
Kern has performed in 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 appeared as soloist with the Bolshoi Theater, Moscow Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Symphony, Russian National, China Symphony, Belgrade Philharmonic, La Scala Philharmonic, Torino Symphony and Cape Town symphony orchestras. She performed with the Kirov Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev at the Kennedy Center.
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 17, she is a laureate of 11 international competitions and has toured throughout her native Russia, Europe, and the United States, as well as in Japan, South Africa and South Korea.