The Virginia Arts Festival has announced that the Russian-American, Olga Kern, has been chosen as the Festival’s new Connie & Marc Jacobson Director of Chamber Music, beginning with the 2019 season.
Ms. Kern will replace the VAF’s founding Director of Chamber Music, André-Michel Schub. https://altdaily.com/the-virginia-arts-festival-bids-a-fond-farewell-to-andre-michel-schub/
Schub brought world-renowned classical musicians to Hampton Roads for over 20 years.
The announcement is a wonderful surprise to all fans of classical music in Hampton Roads. Ms. Kern has been onstage here before. She has performed for the VAF in a solo piano recital in 2017. In 2015, she accompanied her good friend, vocalist Renée Fleming at the Harrison Opera House.
Ms. Kern comes from a long line of musicians with direct ancestral links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. With that kind of family ties, it is no surprise that she began studying the piano at age 5. She won first prize at the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition at age 17, and went on to win a gold medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001. Since then, she has traveled the world, performing solo, with other artists and with full symphonies. Rob Cross, Perry Artistic Director of the Virginia Arts Festival, calls her “one of the great pianists of this generation.”
Olga Kern is delighted to be working with the VAF. She promises “many perfect surprises” to come. She hopes to perform with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and says she will “definitely incorporate some new surprises” with the full symphony. She would like to showcase some lesser-known Russian composers, although she loves both Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
Both of her parents and her son are pianists. Her brother is conductor, Vladimer Kern, so there may be some surprises in store on the family front.
Ms. Kern is very proud of the Olga Kern International Piano Competition that she founded in 2016. It brings gifted, young pianists from around the world to Albuquerque, New Mexico. They get the chance to live with host families, practice on brand new Steinway grand pianos, and compete for a chance to begin their professional careers. Many of these young competitors have never been out of their country or even touched a Steinway. Ms. Kern is hoping to bring the best of these competitors to the VAF in the future. Rob Cross may need to “obtain a few more pianos”, but Ms. Kern says, “No problem. I have a close relationship with Steinway in New York.”
Olga Kern is full of surprises. Many of these will be revealed on November 1, when the 2019 season of the Virginia Arts Festival will be announced. Chamber music is only one part of the VAF, but it is the part that Olga Kern will focus all of her talent and enthusiasm on. “ I will know every detail, because I’m a perfectionist.” The VAF and Hampton Roads are honored to welcome this artist and perfectionist.