The Russian pianist, Olga Kern ((Russian: Ольга Керн; Kern was her mother's maiden name. Olga's original maiden name was Pushechnikova), was born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninov and began studying piano at the age of 5. Winner of the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition when she was 17, she is a laureate of eleven international competitions and has toured throughout her native Russia, Europe, and the USA, 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.
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 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, Olga gave a second recital eight days later in Isaac Stern Auditorium at the invitation of Carnegie Hall.
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 S. Rachmaninov’s 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.
Olga Kern made her London debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in November 2006 playing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Leonard Slatkin conducting. She returned to London in August of 2008 for her Proms Debut playing S. Rachmaninov’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 Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Antoni Wit, a tour of Germany with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Zdenek Maçal, performances with the orchestras of Copenhagen and Lyon, and recitals in Milan, Hamburg and Luxemburg. She 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.
In the 2008-2009 Season, Olga Kern made her debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin presenting recitals in Washington, DC; La Jolla, CA and Fort Worth, TX, among other cities. After a critically acclaimed 35 city tour of the USA in spring 2007 with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Vladimir 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 Orchestra. In May of 2008, she 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.
In the 2009-2010 season, Olga Kern performed all of the S. Rachmaninov’s concerti in residence with the Colorado Symphony, made her debut with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and performed in several special event concerts with famed soprano Kathleen Battle. Summer 2009 brought her fourth re-engagement at the Ravinia Festival for S. Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 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.
Miss 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. 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.
Olga 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 Zürich, and the Châtelet in Paris; she has appeared as soloist with the Bolshoi Theater, the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Russian National, China Symphony, Belgrade Philharmonic, Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, 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.
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 (2010-2011), the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Van Cliburn Foundation will honor Olga 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 orchestras of Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Anchorage Symphomy, Nashville Symphomy, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Virginia Symphomy, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphomy, Johnson City Symphomy, Syracuse Symphomy and Colorado Symphomy. She has also been invited to perform at Longwood Gardens, the Sanibel Music Festival, the Bach Festival of Winter Park, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and Drake University. In January 2012 Olga will perform during a special North American recital tour with vioVladimir Spivakov, their first chamber music collaboration outside of Europe.
Olga Kern records exclusively for Harmonia Mundi. Her discography includes recordings of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Seaman (2003), a S. Rachmaninov’s recording of Corelli Variations and other transcriptions (2004), a recital disk with works by S. Rachmaninov and Balakirev (2005), Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Warsaw Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Antoni Wit (2006), Brahms Variations (2007) and a 2010 release of Chopin Piano Sonatas No. 2 and 3 (2010). She was also featured in the award-winning documentary about the 2001 Cliburn Competition, Playing on the Edge. She is a Yamaha Artist.