The Russian pianist, harpsichordist and fortepianist, Irina Zahharenkova, began her musical studies with her mother at age 4. At 13, she moved with her family to Tallinn, Estonia, where she studied at the Georg Ots Music College with Professor Mare Ots (1995-2000) and the Estonian Academy of Music (EAM) with Professor Lilian Semper (piano) and Professor Maris Valk-Falk (harpsichord. In 2003 obtained her master’s degree at this institute and is currently to continuing doctor-studies with the same professor. She entered the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki as an exchange student in 2002, and then as a degree student in 2003, studying in piano class of Dr. Hui-Ying Liu-Tawaststjerna She also studied fortepiano with Pekka Vapaavuori. She has also participated in numerous workshops and master-classes, among others: Stephen Kovacevich, Angela Hewitt, András Schiff, Victor Merzhanov, Malcolm Bilson, Huguette Dreyfus, Pierre Hantaï. Since 2003 she is studying for doctor degree in EAM (Professor Lilian Semper. In addition to the piano, she has pursued advanced courses in harpsichord, fortepiano, organ, chemistry, as well as Estonian and Finnish philology. She has also been a laureate in “Prague Spring” competition in Czech Republic (2005) as a harpsichordist and in “Festival van Vlaanderen” competition in Belgium (2004) as fortepianist.
Irina Zahharenkova has an impressive list of prizes and awards from competitions, including: 2nd prize and special prize for interpretation of M K Čiurlionis’ works at the M K Čiurlionis International Piano Competition in Vilnius, Lithuania (2003); 1st prize, audience prize and special prize for interpretation of compulsory contemporary piece at the “Premio Jaén” International Piano Competition in Jaén, Spain (2004); 3rd prize at the “Festival van Vlaanderen” International Pianoforte Competition in Bruges, Belgium (2004); 2nd prize and special prize for interpretation of French music and special prize for interpretation of contemporary music at the Epinal International Piano Competition in Epinal, France (2005); 3rd prize and special prize for interpretation of compulsory contemporary piece at the “Prague Spring” International Harpsichord Competition in Prague, Czech Republic (2005); 1st prize and special prize for interpretation of George Enescu’s Sonata at the G. Enescu International Piano Competition in Bucharest, Romania (2005); 3rd prize at the Geneva International Piano Competition in Switzerland (2006); 1st prize and special prize for interpretation of Mozart’s sonata and special prize for interpretation of A Casagrande’s works at the Alessandro Casagrande International Piano Competition in Terni, Italy (2006); 1st prize and audience prize at the J.S. Bach International Piano Competition in Leipzig, Germany (2006); 4th prize at the Villa-Lobos International Piano Competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil (2006); Winner of Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Award (2007). In 2008 she was a prize-winner at the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Masters Competition in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Irina Zahharenkova is one of the most outstanding keyboard performers of her generation to emerge from Estonia today. An extremely versatile musician, she frequently performs on the piano and harpsichord in solo recitals, chamber music concerts, and as soloist with orchestras in Europe and Japan. she has played among others in Klavier-Festival Ruhr in Germany, Spoleto Festival in Italy, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in Finland, Bergen International Festival in Norway and others. As soloist she has appeared with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki City Orchestra, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Estonian State Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Finlandia and others, played with such conductors as Juha Kangas, Dmitri Aleksejev, Leif Segerstam and Patrick Gallois. Her repertoire encompasses a wide range of musical styles from Baroque to contemporary. In recent years she appeared in concerts in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Spain, Russia, etc.. She is also acting as harpsichord and fortepiano (Hammerklavier) soloist as well as continuo-player in various orchestras and Baroque ensembles.
Apart from concert activities Irina Zahharenkova is teaching piano in Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. In 2010 she had her debut DVD released by Estonian Record Productions, recorded live at Glasperlenspiel Festival in Tartu, Estonia, where she gave a recital playing harpsichord, fortepiano and modern piano.