The Russian-born American pianist, Kirill Gerstein, attended one of Russia’s special music schools for gifted children and taught himself to play jazz by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection. He came to the USA at 14 to continue his studies in jazz piano as the youngest student ever to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. However, he also continued working on the classical piano repertoire. Following his second summer at the Boston University program at Tanglewood, he decided to focus mainly on classical music and moved to New York City to attend the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Solomon Mikowsky and earned Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees. He continued his studies with Dmitri Bashkirov in Madrid and Ferenc Rados in Budapest. Among his teachers was also Alexis Weissenberg. Gerstein was awarded First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv, received a 2002 Gilmore Young Artist Award, and was chosen as Carnegie Hall’s “Rising Star” for the 2005-2006 season.
Kirill Gerstein is one of today’s most intriguing young musicians. His masterful technique, musical curiosity, and probing interpretations have led to explorations of classical music and jazz, advanced degrees by the age of 20, a professorship in piano by the age of 27, and a full performance schedule at the world’s major music centers and festivals.
In January 2010 Kirill Gerstein was named the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award, only the sixth musician to have been so honored. The Gilmore Artist Award is made 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.
Highlights of Kirill Gerstein’s 2009-2010 North American season include debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, and with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Rochester Philharmonic; re-engagements with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and Oregon Symphony; a tour with cellist Steven Isserlis that includes performances at the Kennedy Center and in San Francisco; and Gilmore Artist recital and concerto appearances at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. Internationally, Gerstein appears with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and Dutoit in Tokyo, tours Switzerland with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, and performs with Hanover’s NDR Orchestra in Austria and Italy. His summer 2009 schedule included appearances at the Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Delft, and Lucerne Festivals; a second performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Festival; and a return to Caracas with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolívar Youth Orchestra.
Kirill Gerstein’s most recent engagements in North America include performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and Utah Symphony Orchestra; the Philadelphia Orchestra at Mann Music Center; the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Festival and Chicago’s Grant Park Festival; and recitals in Boston, New York, Cincinnati, Detroit, Vancouver, Kansas City, Portland (Oregon), and Washington’s Kennedy Center.
Kirill Gerstein has worked with such prominent European orchestras as the Münchner Philharmoniker, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle, Zurich’s Tonhalle, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, and Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. He has also appeared in recital in Paris, Prague, Hamburg, London’s Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls, and the Liszt Academy in Budapest. He made his Salzburg Festival debut playing solo and two-piano works with András Schiff in 2008.
Kirill Gerstein became an American citizen in 2003 and is currently a professor of piano at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart.