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Kirill Gerstein headlines Houston Symphony’s “Rach Fest” and more

For his 2011-12 season, Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein has committed himself to multiple performances of all four Rachmaninoff concertos as artist-in-residence of “Rach Fest”– a special three-week celebration of the composer with the Houston Symphony. In addition, he will make his Seattle Symphony debut with the Russian composer’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” under conductor Robert Spano. Other highlights of Gerstein’s 2011-12 season include a concert with his frequent collaborator, Semyon Bychkov, and the San Francisco Symphony in Strauss’s rarely-heard Burleske; performing Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with Jerzy Semkow and the Detroit Symphony; appearing with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and violinist Leila Josefowicz in Berg’s Chamber Concerto; and returning to his jazz roots with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Solo recitals will entail returns to New York’s 92nd St. Y, London’s Wigmore Hall, and the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival; an appearance at Cal Performances at UC Berkeley; and performances in Vancouver, Miami, and Sarasota. Upcoming chamber collaborations include a European recital tour with violist Tabea Zimmermann.
When the Houston Symphony planned its upcoming “Rach Fest” in tribute to Rachmaninoff, Gerstein was its choice for the festival’s artist-in-residence. Over the orchestra’s three-week festival in January 2012, the pianist will offer three accounts of each of the composer’s four piano concertos: the Third with British conductor Edward Gardner, and the others under Houston Symphony Music Director Hans Graf. Gerstein will showcase Rachmaninoff once again with the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for his Seattle Symphony debut.
Gerstein closes the upcoming season with two performances of another Russian concerto: Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, which he plays at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and with the Atlanta Symphony. At the San Francisco Symphony, the pianist presents Strauss’s Burleske.
Gerstein’s upcoming orchestral schedule also takes in Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto, which he plays with the Detroit Symphony on October 21 – the eve of the composer’s 200th birthday – and again with the Utah Symphony in December.
Gerstein’s debut solo album – which features Liszt’s Sonata in B minor – was released last season on the Myrios Classics label. The disc, named one of the year’s best recordings by both the New York Times and NPR, also contains Schumann’s Humoreske and the world premiere recording of Ophelia’s Last Dance, a Gilmore commission for Gerstein from British composer Oliver Knussen. It is Knussen who will conduct when the pianist joins the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and violinist Leila Josefowicz for two performances of Berg’s Chamber Concerto on October 29 and 30.
Gerstein first left his native Russia for the U.S. at the age of 14 to study jazz piano at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he became the youngest college student in the school’s history. Now he returns – both to Berklee and to his jazz roots – with a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, in the original 1924 arrangement for piano and jazz band.
Jazz is in the air once again when Gerstein returns to the Gilmore Festival in late spring. As with last season, his solo recital (April 29) will feature the world premiere performance of a new Gilmore commission: this time, Variations on a Melancholy Theme by American jazz pianist Brad Mehldau (b.1970). The festival will also see Gerstein and Mehldau collaborate on a two-piano recital on May 9.
The 2010-11 season was truly a milestone year for Gerstein, who made major orchestral debuts at the Aspen Music Festival; at London’s BBC Proms; and with the New York Philharmonic, where he scored rave reviews with “a boldly interpreted and brilliant account of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto” (New York Times).
Kirill Gerstein: 2011-12 engagements
Oct 20 & 21
Detroit, MI
Detroit Symphony Orchestra / Jerzy Semkow
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2
Oct 29 (St. Paul) & 30 (Arden Hills)
St. Paul and Arden Hills, MN
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra / Oliver Knussen
Berg: Chamber Concerto for piano, violin, and 13 winds (with Leila Josefowicz, violin)
Nov 2–4
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony / Semyon Bychkov
Strauss: Burleske
Nov 10–13
Seattle, WA
Seattle Symphony Orchestra / Robert Spano
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Nov 18 & 19
Toledo Symphony Orchestra / Gregory Vajda
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 4
Nov 22
Frankfurt, Germany
Alte Oper
Duo recital with Tabea Zimmermann, viola
Program TBA
Nov 23
Ghent, Belgium
Handelsbeurs Concert Hall
Duo recital with Tabea Zimmermann, viola
Works by Schumann, Liszt, Reger, & Shostakovich
Nov 24
Madrid, Spain
National Auditorium
Chamber Hall
Duo recital with Tabea Zimmermann, viola
Works by Schumann, Liszt, Reger, & Shostakovich
Dec 2 & 3
Utah Symphony Orchestra / Gilbert Varga
Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 2; Totentanz
Dec 9 & 10
Cologne, Germany
WDR Symphony Orchestra / Jukka-Pekka Sarasate
Schoenberg: Piano Concerto, Op. 42
Dec 29
Schloss Elmau, Germany
Christoph Prégardien, tenor
Schubert: Winterreise
Jan 5, 7, & 8, 2012
Houston Symphony / Edward Gardner
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3
Jan 13–15
Houston Symphony / Hans Graf
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 4
Jan 19, 21, & 22
Houston Symphony / Hans Graf
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
Feb 2 & 3
Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2
Feb 12
Cal Performances, UC Berkeley
Feb 16
Sarasota Concert Association
Van Wezel Hall, Sarasota
Feb 23
March 6
Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3
March 9 & 10
Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra / David Lockington
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
March 17
Portland, OR
Piano International master class
March 18
Newmark Theatre
March 20
Rochester, NY
Eastman School of Music
March 23
Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall, Iowa State University
Ames Town and Gown Chamber Music Association
March 25
Sunday Afternoons of Music
Gusman Hall, University of Miami
March 30
Boston, MA
Berklee Performance Center
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (original 1924 arrangement)
April 7 & 8
Dresden Philharmonic
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 1
April 13–15
Trio period
April 19
Vancouver Recital Society
Chan Centre
April 21
92nd Street Y
New York, NY
BACH: English Suite No. 6 in D minor, BWV 811
BUSONI: Giga, bolero e variazione: Studie nach Mozart from An die Jugend
KNUSSEN: Ophelia’s Last Dance, Op. 32
WEBER: Aufforderung zum Tanze, Op. 65
SCHUMANN: Carnaval, Op. 9
LISZT: Selections from Soirées de Vienne; Valses caprices d’après Schubert
April 29
Gilmore Festival Activities
May 3–12
Gilmore Festival Activities
   May 9: two-piano recital with Brad Meldau
   May 12: Kalamazoo Symphony / Raymond Harvey
                Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5
May 17, 19, & 20
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra / Vassily Petrenko
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 2; Liszt: Totentanz
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