"An absolute whiz at the piano"
"Call it star quality - music likes Kern, the way the camera liked Garbo"
With a vivid onstage presence, dazzling technique, and keen musicianship, Russian-American pianist Olga Kern is widely recognized as one of the great artists of her generation, captivating fans and critics alike. She was born into a family of musicians in Russia and began studying piano at the age of five, and at seventeen was awarded first prize at the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition. In 2001, she jump-started her U.S. career, winning a historic Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas—the first woman to do so in more than thirty years.
A Steinway Artist, Ms. Kern is a laureate of a number of international competitions. In 2016 she was Jury Chairman of both the Cliburn International Amateur Piano Competition and the first Olga Kern International Piano Competition, where she also holds the title of Artistic Director. In coming seasons, she will continue to serve on the juries of a number of other high-level competitions. Ms. Kern frequently gives masterclasses and since 2017 has served on the piano faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. In 2019, she was appointed the Connie & Marc Jacobson Director of Chamber Music at the Virginia Arts Festival.
Highlights of the 2019-20 season included performances with the Allentown Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, New Mexico Philharmonic, and the New West Symphony. She also appears as a soloist on a U.S. tour with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and will give recitals in Orford, Sunriver, Fort Worth, Carmel, and San Francisco.
Kern has performed with many prominent orchestras, including the Moscow Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Detroit Symphony, and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, D.C.), as well as the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Symphony, Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, Tokyo’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of China, which marked her Chinese debut. She was also a featured soloist on US tours with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and during the 2017-18 season served as Artist in Residence at the San Antonio Symphony.
Ms. Kern’s discography includes a Harmonia Mundi recording of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Seaman; her Grammy-nominated disc of Rachmaninoff’s Corelli Variations and other transcriptions; and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Warsaw Philharmonic and Antoni Wit. Other notable releases include Chopin’s Piano Sonatas No. 2 and 3, and, more recently, SONY’s release of the Rachmaninoff Sonata for Cello and Piano with Sol Gabetta. Ms. Kern is also featured in award-winning documentaries about the 2001 Cliburn Competition: Playing on the Edge, They Came to Play, and Olga’s Journey.