Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein has been named the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award, it was announced today by Daniel R. Gustin, Director of the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. One of the most prestigious honors for pianists, the Gilmore Artist Award is presented every four years on a non-competitive basis to an exceptional pianist who, regardless of age or nationality, has the potential to sustain a career as a major international concert artist. Mr. Gerstein will receive $300,000 in support of his musical and career goals over the next four years. Previous recipients of the Gilmore Artist Award are Ingrid Fliter (2006), Piotr Anderszewski (2002), Leif Ove Andsnes (1998), Ralf Gothóni (1994), and David Owen Norris (1991). "Over the past ten years we have observed Kirill Gerstein develop into one of the most compelling and profound musical artists of his generation," said Dan Gustin. "He is the epitome of what we seek in the Gilmore Artist - a musical thinker and performer who will continue growing and who can, and we believe will, attain a career as a major concert pianist for the 21st Century."
Mr. Gerstein has been praised for his masterful technique, musical curiosity, and probing interpretations. From early piano lessons at a special school in Russia, to studies in jazz at Berklee College of Music in Boston, to performing at the classical music world's most prestigious venues, Mr. Gerstein is "on the fast track to a major career, and he deserves to be," noted The Boston Globe. He won first prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv and was chosen as Carnegie Hall's "Rising Star" for the 2005-06 season. Mr. Gerstein is the first Gilmore Artist to have received the Gilmore Young Artist Award, which he was awarded in 2002.
"I am extremely honored and humbled to have been chosen as the 2010 Gilmore Artist," said Kirill Gerstein. "It feels very gratifying and flattering to have my work recognized and supported by such a distinguished panel of experts in the classical music world. I'm quite overwhelmed by the myriad of projects that this award could make possible, and I'm looking forward to working with Dan Gustin and his staff at The Gilmore to realize some of my creative dreams. It's with great appreciation that I accept this incredibly generous award."
The Gilmore Artist Award is given by the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, established in 1989. Operating under a unique selection process, candidates for the Gilmore Artist Award are nominated confidentially by a large and diverse committee of music professionals. The nominated candidates are then unknowingly evaluated for their pianism and musicianship in various live concert performances by an anonymous six-member Artistic Advisory Committee. The intention is to evaluate the candidates' work over a sustained period of time, rather than judging their achievement during the course of a highly concentrated and competitive set of conditions.
The Gilmore Artist receives a $50,000 cash grant to be used at the artist's discretion and $250,000 typically disbursed over a four-year period for projects and activities that will enhance the artist's musicianship and career.
In addition to Dan Gustin, Director of The Gilmore, the Artistic Advisory Committee for the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award included Matias Tarnopolsky, until recently the Artistic Administrator of the New York Philharmonic, and now the Director of Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeley; Sherman Van Solkema, Professor of Music and retired chairman of the Music Department, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI; Ann Schein, concert pianist and teacher; Don Michael Randel, President of the Andrew Mellon Foundation; and Curtis Price, until recently the President of the Royal Academy of Music, London, and now Warden, New College, Oxford University, U.K.
The Gilmore also gives Gilmore Young Artist Awards every two years to the most promising of the new generation of American pianists, age 22 and younger. Ivan Moshchuk and Charlie Albright were named the 2010 Gilmore Young Artists. Between 1991 and 2010, 26 young pianists received the Gilmore Young Artist Award, including Yuja Wang, Jonathan Biss, Christopher Taylor, Adam Nieman, Orli Shaham, and Wendy Chen, in addition to Mr. Gerstein.
The Gilmore Festival and Awards are the legacy of Irving S. Gilmore, a Kalamazoo businessman and philanthropist, whose special devotion to keyboard music and its musicians inspired the creation of the biennial Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the Gilmore Artist and Young Artist Awards. Mr. Gerstein, along with former Gilmore Artists Ingrid Fliter, Piotr Anderszewski and David Owen Norris will appear at this year's Gilmore International Keyboard Festival taking place April 17 to May 8, 2010 throughout West Michigan.
Born in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, thirty-year-old Kirill Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children and taught himself to play jazz. He came to the U.S. at 14 to continue his studies in jazz piano at Boston's Berklee College of Music while continuing to study the classical piano repertoire. Following two summers at the Boston University Young Artist program at Tanglewood, Mr. Gerstein moved to New York City to study with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music where he earned both his Bachelors and Masters of Music degrees by the age of 20, then continued his studies in Madrid with Dmitri Bashkirov and in Budapest with Ferenc Rados. Now an American citizen, Mr. Gerstein divides his time between the United States and Germany, where he has been a professor of piano at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart since 2006.
Mr. Gerstein has performed with esteemed orchestras and conductors, and in recital throughout the world. He has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, and San Francisco Symphonies. He has also performed with the Munich, Rotterdam and Royal Philharmonics, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Staatskapelle Dresden, the Finnish and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestras, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich and the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, among others. He has given recitals in Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Hamburg, New York, Paris, Prague, Vancouver, at Washington's Kennedy Center, the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and at London's Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls.
At summer festivals Mr. Gerstein has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Mann Music Center and at the Saratoga Festival and the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Festival. He made his Salzburg Festival debut playing solo and two-piano works with András Schiff in 2008. In 2009 he performed at the Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, and Lucerne Festivals, and returned to Caracas to work with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolívar Youth Orchestra.
In addition to his recital and concerto appearances at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in May 2010, highlights of his upcoming North American engagements include debuts with the Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis symphonies, and the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, and return performances with the Baltimore, Houston and San Francisco symphonies. In January 2010 Mr. Gerstein will tour with cellist Steven Isserlis, with performances at the Kennedy Center and in San Francisco. He will also make his debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood in summer of 2010. Internationally he will perform with the London Philharmonia, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Spain, Stockholm Philharmonic and WDR Symphony in Cologne.