The Russian pianist, Sofya Gulyak, studied in a Special Music College in Kazan under Nailya Khakimova (Class of 1998), and then in Kazan State Conservatoire under Professor Elfiya Burnasheva. After that she continued her studies at the Piano Academy "Incontri coi Maestri" (Imola, Italy) with Boris Petrushansky and at the Royal College of Music in London with Vanessa Latarche. In 2006 she won first prize in the Sigismund Thalberg International Piano Competition. In 2007, she won the 1st prize winner of William Kapell International Piano Competition in the USA, and shared the Concorso F. Busoni second prize with Dinara Nadzhafova. She was the winner of the 2008 Washington International Competition of the Friday Morning Music Club, and also won Isang Yun International Piano Competition in South Korea 2008. Her resume includes prizes from many other prestigious piano competitions: she is a 1st prize winner of Maj Lind Helsinki International Piano Competition, Tivoli Piano Competition in Copenhagen, San Marino Piano Competition, and prize winner of Marguerite Long Piano Competition in Paris. In September 2009, she was awarded the 1st prize and the Princess Mary Gold Medal at the Sixteenth Leeds International Piano Competition - the first woman in the history of the competition to achieve this distinction.
Since then Sofya Gulyak has appeared all over the world to great acclaim. Her recital programmes are frequently reviewed in superlatives, and her concerto appearances with major orchestras are noted in glowing terms by the world’s music press. She has been praised for her "tremendous precision and colouration...exquisite soft playing ...with delicacy" and described as a “Rach star"(Washington Post). Recitals and concert appearances have been numerous, with Sofya Gulyak having performed all over the globe in such venues as La Scala Theatre and Sala Verdi in Milan, Herculessaal in Munich, Salle Cortot, Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel in Paris, Tokyo Opera City Hall, Osaka Symphony Hall, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Kennedy Center in Washington, Hungarian National Opera, Palais de la Musique in Strasbourg, Hong Kong City Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Musashino Cultural Centre in Tokyo, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Teatro Municipal adn Cidade des Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Auditorium Manzoni in Bologna, Aberdeen Music Hall, Salle Molière in Lyon, Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, King Theatre in Rabat, Kursaal in Bern, Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen and many others.
Sofya Gulyak appeared as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Rio de Janeiro Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra dell’ Arena di Verona, Orchestra Filarmonica di Bologna, Enescu Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Slovak Radio Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Copenhagen Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Shanghai Philharmonic, Oulu Philharmonic, Leipzig Philharmonic, Pensacola Symphony, Tatarstan Symphony, Philippines Philharmonic, Morocco Philharmonic.
She collaborated with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sakari Oramo, Mark Elder, David Hill, Donald Runnicle, Vasily Petrenko, Alexander Lazarev, Alan Buribayev, Eiving Gullberg, Jensen, Theodor Guschlauer, Rory McDonald, Tamami Nishimoto, Danail Rachev, Fabio Mastrangelo, Michele Mariotti, Fuat Mansurov, Alexander Sladkovsky, Mario Kosik, Jesus Medina,Tomomi Nishimoto, Istvan Denes, Peter Rubardt and others. The festivals in which Sofya Gulyak participated include Klavier Ruhr Festival, Chopin Festival in Duzniki-Zdroj, Festival du Sceaux, International Keyboard Festival in New York, International Strasbourg Festival, Busoni Festival, Harrogate Festival, Krakòv Piano Festival, New Zealand Piano Festival, Ravello Festival, Festival Chopin in Paris, Shanghai International Piano Festival and many others.
Sofya Gulyak’s recording of Russian piano music (Medtner, Sergei Rachmaninov, Prokofiev) was released on Champs Hill Records in 2013 and received a 5 stars review in Diapason magazine (“What a pleasure to hear the piano blossoming and projecting in the most vivid of ways when played by Sofya Gulyak. The singing sound alongside dazzling and powerful execution distinguishes an outstanding natural pianist”) and praising reviews in Gramophone (“This is a stunning debut album…”) and Guardian magazines (“Sofya Gulyak is a fearless pianist, never afraid to scale the most technically demanding heights of the repertoire and equally proud to wear her heart on her sleeve”). Her CD with Johannes Brahms music was released on Piano Classics in the spring of 2015 and got glowing reviews from American Record Guide ("The Handel Variations is among the top contenders on record. From the very first notes she takes charge and envelops us in a thrilling sequence of variations that will send goose bumps to susceptible listeners. Not only does she perform with arresting contrast and lovely, soft floating tone. She keeps you on the edge of your seat, as the music presses ever forward. Sometimes I was reminded of the young Argerich.." and Fanfare magazine (" Her musicality is beautifully attuned to the spirit of Brahms...I must praise Kazan-born Russain pianist Sofya Gulyak, whose impressive reading places a stronger emphasis than Perahia's in the continuity of the variations... She is a natural Brahmsian whatever his moods.") Her playing has been broadcast on radio and TV in Russia, Poland, France, Italy, Germany, USA, Finland, Denmark, Serbia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom (BBC 3 and BBC 4).
Sofya Gulyak attended as a jury member the International Piano Competitions in Italy, Serbia, France, Greece, USA, and was invited to teach master classes in China, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Mexico, USA, and Germany. She is presently a professor of the piano at the Royal College of Muisc in London.