Tom Littman
Concert Manager
2237 Alice Pratt Brown Hall

Kristi Blair
Concert Office Assistant
2243 Alice Pratt Brown Hall
Houston Friends of Music

Guest Artist Master Class
Olga Kern, piano
Gold Medalist of the 2003 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition
12:00 p.m., Duncan Recital Hall

Olga KernIn June 2001,
OLGA KERN was awarded the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal at the Eleventh Van Cliburn International Piano Competition - the first woman to have achieved this distinction in more than thirty years. Captivating fans and critics alike with her passionately confident musicianship and vivid stage presence, she was awarded international concert engagements and career management, as well as a compact disc recording of her award-winning Cliburn Competition performances for the harmonia mundi label.

Ms. Kern was born into a family of musicians (her great-great-grandmother was a friend of Tchaikovsky, and her great-grandmother sang with Rachmaninoff) and began studying piano at the age of five. Winner of the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition when she was seventeen, she is a laureate of eleven international competitions. She has performed in many of the world's most important venues, including the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory; Symphony Hall in Osaka; La Scala in Milan; the Salle Cortot in Paris; and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; and has 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 is also the recipient of an honorary scholarship from the President of Russia and a member of Russia 's International Academy of Arts. 

As a result of her success at the Cliburn Competition, Ms. Kern made her Boston Pops debut during the summer of 2001 and performed at the Kennedy Center with noted soprano Renée Fleming in tribute to Van Cliburn in December 2001.  Tours in the United States during the 2001-2002 season were highlighted by performances with the El Paso Symphony, Eugene Symphony, Moscow Chamber, Naples Philharmonic, and San Antonio Symphony Orchestras, as well as recitals in Atlanta, Boulder, Chicago (Ravinia), Los Angeles, New Orleans, Portland (OR), and San Juan (PR). Internationally, Ms. Kern performed in France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, and Russia, in addition to an extensive tour of South Africa in June of 2002.

Olga KernThe 2002-2003 season was launched at the Ravinia Festival by a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Christoph Eschenbach and was further highlighted by engagements with the Columbus, Dallas, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Utah Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Kirov Orchestra under Valery Gergiev. In recital, Ms. Kern appeared at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, the Cerritos Center in California, the Scottsdale Center for the Arts in Arizona, and the University of Kansas Lied Center, as well as in Milan, Zermatt (Switzerland), and Moscow. She has also 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.

In the spring of 2004, she will tour Austria with the Warsaw Philharmonic led by Antoni Wit and will make her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's new Zankel Hall on May 1, 2004. Other 2003-2004 engagements include appearances with the Fort Worth, Houston, Puerto Rico, San Diego, and Tucson Symphony Orchestras, as well as numerous recitals.

Ms. Kern was featured in Playing on the Edge , the Peabody Award-winning documentary about the Eleventh Van Cliburn Competition which has aired on PBS stations across the United States. Her final round Cliburn Competition performances with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and Maestro James Conlon are showcased in the PBS series Concerto . She has recorded the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Seaman, released in the fall of 2003 by harmonia mundi usa , for whom she now records exclusively. Her next disc for the label will consist of solo Liszt/Rachmaninoff transcriptions.

She began her formal training with acclaimed teacher Evgeny Timakin at the Moscow Central School and continued with 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. Ms. Kern currently lives in Moscow and devotes her free time to her young son, Vladislav. She will join the roster of Columbia Artists Management Inc. effective with the 2004-2005 concert season.

Critical Acclaim for Olga Kern
".masterly performances.models of simplicity, control and concentration.a reminder that great pianistic technique often consists of being able to articulate clearly and to use exquisite taste without artifice.playing this pure and unaffected comes only from the most evolved and selfless musicians."
--Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times

"Kern's musicality radiates off the stage and saturates the hall, and it is joyously alive, immediately communicative, fragrantly sensual, and almost visual in its intensity. Whatever it is - call it star quality - music likes Kern the way the camera liked Garbo."
--Ronald Broun, The Washington Post

"There were no cannons firing inside Symphony Hall, but Kern shot off plenty of rockets with her reading of Rachmaninoff's showy 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.' Kern played like every note mattered, and she convinced this reviewer that she deserved every bit of her competition victory. Many players try to pound Rachmaninoff into submission. Kern played with fire, but she didn't try to burn the house down. Her Rachmaninoff had plenty of meaning, energy and articulation.a rising keyboard star."
--Keith Powers, Boston Herald

"Kern.clearly has the musical ability and the personal charisma to place herself at the center of the classical music world."
--Wayne Lee Gay, Star-Telegram

"The audience jumped to its feet in well-deserved ovations, and the monumentally talented artist responded with encores that stretched beyond this review's deadline. From feather-light musical whispers to explosive instrumental fireworks, Kern's rare gift is that of a serious and true musician, whose golden touch is never harsh and always controlled."
--Sabine Kortals, Boulder Daily Camera

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