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OLGA KERN (article first published : 2002-06-12)

Ascending star on the international classical music scene, Russian pianist Olga Kern is to fly to Grahamstown on June 30 for two performances at the National Arts Festival.

The 27-year-old pianist holds the Van Cliburn Award for 2001 that involves a year-long schedule of concerts, including 12 in major North American cities. She is the first woman to win this prestigious award since 1969 and her competition performance has been released on CD by the harmonia mundi label.

On the night of her arrival in the "festival city", she will play Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1 in B Flat Minor with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra during the symphony concert. The following evening she is to present a recital designed to showcase the emotional fire and awesome virtuosity that have won her world renown.

American critics have repeatedly raved about her interpretation of Rachmaninoff - "Ms Kern surged on stage in a torso hugging red dress, plugged ... Rachmaninoff ... into a nuclear reactor and all but melted down the whole of North Texas," wrote one smitten Dallas critic.

During her Festival recital she will play Rachmaninoff's Sonata No.2 op.36 (second edition). The programme also includes romantic favourites by Franz Schubert (2 Impromptus D935 No.1 F minor, No.3 Bb major) and Johannes Brahms (Variations on a theme by Paganini op. 35 [Books I & II]). Anatol Liadov's demanding 5 Preludes and Mily Balakirev's showy Islamey Fantasy demand the charisma and pianistic intellect for which she is acclaimed.

Olga Kern started studying at five and is currently registered as a post-graduate student at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and Italy's Accademia Pianistica Incontri col Maestro where she studies with Boris Petrushansky.

The 2002 National Arts Festival runs from June 28 to July 6 and is proudly sponsored by the Eastern Cape Government, the National Arts Council and the Standard Bank, with support from Shamwari.

Full details of the programme are posted on http://www.nafest.co.za and published in the free Booking Kit (available from selected Standard Bank branches - ring the Festival hotline 046 603 1164 for the list). Book by post (details in the Booking Kit), through Computicket or on http://www.computicket.com

Olga Kern will give a recital for Friends of Music on June 25 at the Durban Jewish Club at 19h45. Book at Computicket




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