“On the fast track to a major career, and he deserves to be.” – Boston Globe
The multifaceted pianist Kirill Gerstein has rapidly ascended into classical music’s highest ranks. With a masterful technique, discerning intelligence, and a musical curiosity that has led him to explore repertoire spanning centuries and styles, he has proven to be one of today’s most intriguing and versatile musicians. His early training and experience in jazz has contributed an important element to his interpretive style, inspiring an energetic and expressive musical personality that distinguishes his playing.
Mr. Gerstein is the sixth recipient the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, presented every four years to an exceptional pianist who, regardless of age or nationality, possesses broad and profound musicianship and charisma and who desires and can sustain a career as a major international concert artist. Since receiving the award in 2010, Mr. Gerstein has shared his prize through the commissioning of boundary crossing new works by Oliver Knussen, Brad Mehldau, Chick Corea and Timothy Andres, with additional commissions scheduled for future seasons. Mr. Gerstein was also awarded First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, received a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and a 2010 Avery Fisher Grant.
In the 2012-13 season, Mr. Gerstein makes subscription debuts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto and Thomas Adès’ concerto In Seven Days conducted by Mr. Adès, the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F major conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero, the Montreal Symphony performing Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety led by Jacques Lacombe and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto led by Mr. Guerrero. While in Boston, Mr. Gerstein and Mr. Adès will also perform piano four hands and chamber music by Elliott Carter and Brahms with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players. Mr. Gerstein’s return engagements include performances with the Indianapolis Symphony, Oregon Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and San Antonio Symphony where he will be the soloist in both Brahms concertos during the orchestra’s Brahms Festival. He will perform in recital for the La Jolla Music Society and at the Eastman School of Music, and tour with long-time chamber music partner cellist Steven Isserlis, with performances at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Wolftrap in Vienna, VA, with the Cleveland Chamber Music Society and at the University of Chicago. Internationally he will make his debuts with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek, NDR Hamburg with Semyon Bychkov, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin with Marek Janowski, Tonnkunstler Symphony Vienna led by Claus Peter Flor; and return to London for performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, at the Proms and in recital at Queen Elizabeth Hall.
In the 2011-12 season Mr. Gerstein debuted with the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony and at the Aspen Music Festival and London’s Proms. He also performed Rachmaninoff’s complete concertos in a three week residency with the Houston Symphony. His recent North American engagements also include performances with the Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Vancouver symphonies among others; festival appearances at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chicago’s Grant Park, with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Vail Valley Bravo Festival, Mann Music Center and Saratoga, with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, and with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom; and recitals in New York at the 92nd Street Y and Town Hall, Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Miami, Vancouver and at Washington’s Kennedy Center.
Internationally, Kirill Gerstein has worked with such prominent European orchestras as the Munich, Rotterdam and Royal Philharmonics, London’s Philharmonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Staatskappelle, Zurich Tonhalle, the Finnish and Swedish Radio Orchestras, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, as well as with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Caracas with Gustavo Dudamel. He has also performed recitals in Paris, Prague, Hamburg, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. He made his Salzburg Festival debut playing solo and two piano works with Andras Schiff and has also appeared at the Verbier, Lucerne and Jerusalem Chamber Music Festivals.
His first solo recording featuring works by Schumann, Liszt and Oliver Knussen, released by Myrios Classics, was chosen by The New York Times as one of the best recordings of 2010. Mr. Gerstein also collaborated with Tabea Zimmerman on a recording of Sonatas for viola and piano by Rebecca Clarke, Henri Vieuxtemps and Johannes Brahms for the Myrios label, released in February 2011.
Born in 1979 in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and while studying classical music, taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection. After coming to the attention of vibraphonist Gary Burton, who was performing at a music festival in the Soviet Union, Mr. Gerstein came to the United States at 14 to study jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. After completing his studies in three years and following his second summer at the Boston University program at Tanglewood, Mr. Gerstein turned his focus back to classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky and earned both Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees by the age of 20. He continued his studies in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov and in Budapest with Ferenc Rados. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany, where he has been a professor of piano at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart since 2006.