2010 Gilmore Artist Award winner Kirill Gerstein on Bach, Rach and jazz

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
October 7, 2009
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St. Paul, Minn. — 2010 Gilmore Artist Award winner Kirill Gerstein is a pianist with a talent for both jazz and classical. He was finally forced to choose between the two, to which he would devote his life and follow in a career.

He chose classical.

But that was only after he studied under some of the finest jazz musicians at the Berklee School in Boston. He became a college student and emigrated to the United States when he was only 14, and as the youngest student ever accepted at the college.

What caught my attention about Gerstein's playing came from his recital last summer at the Verbier Festival. He played Bach and Rachmaninov with a clarity, freshness and a rhythmic "groove" that seems to be an outgrowth of his jazz training.

I had a chance to speak with Gerstein about his philosophy on Bach, Rachmaninov and jazz, in between his Shostakovich rehearsals with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

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Listen to a stream of Mr. Gerstein's performance of the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 2. Hans Graf is on the podium with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, October 9-10, 2009 at the Ordway Center in Saint Paul.

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