gilmore keyboard festival

Marco Borggreve

Kirill Gerstein will perform on the Gilmore Keyboard Festival's Piano Masters Series on Tuesday, May 7 at 8 pm in Chenery Auditorium. In a wide-ranging musical conversation with Cara Lieurance, Gerstein discusses the many-sided life of Franz Liszt, the legacy of Beethoven, rare works of Debussy and the Gilmore premiere of Thomas Adès' Berceuse from The Exterminating Angel, which the composer adapted from his new opera for Gerstein. 

Gerstein says the Gilmore Keyboard Festival is a special event for the pianists themselves, who rarely have time to meet and socialize in the course of their solo careers. His latest recording, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is of Ferrucio Busoni's Piano Concerto, a mammoth, late-romantic work for which he is a passionate advocate.

Pierre van der Westhuizen, the executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival and a concert pianist himself, joins Cara Lieurance to preview the final concerts of the spring season. On April 28 at 4 pm, American pianist Kate Liu, a finalist of the 2015 Chopin Competition, will perform works by Beethoven, Mozart and Prokofiev in the Wellspring Theatre. Westhuizen recalls the day he watched the livestream of the famous competition, and how Ms. Liu's performance stood out among all the others. Liu had to withdraw from performing in recent seasons to allow an injury to resolve - something Westhuizen says athletes and musicians share in common.

On May 7 at 8 pm in Chenery Auditorium, the 2010 Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein will replace an ailing Murray Perahia on the Piano Masters Series. Gerstein, who has returned to Kalamazoo more times than any other Gilmore Artist, will play a wide-ranging program of immense variety and difficulty, Westhuizen says. Westhuizen and Cara Lieurance get into the details of the great Liszt Sonata in B minor and other works on the program.

Note: This concert has been rescheduled. Ms. Zuo will perform on Sunday, April 14 at 4 pm.

Zhang "Zee Zee" Zuo took time out of her family's Chinese New Year celebration to talk to Cara Lieurance about her upcoming debut on the Gilmore Keyboard Festival's Rising Stars Series, which will bring her to Kalamazoo on Sunday, Feb 10 at 4 pm in the Wellspring Theatre. She talks about her program of Bach, Schumann and Ravel, and compares and contrasts her experiences in China, the United States, and her current home, Berlin, Germany.

Emil Matveev

Pianist Nikita Mndoyants, the winner of the 2016 Cleveland International Piano Competition, is the next artist to perform on the Gilmore Keyboard Festival's Rising Stars Series, Sunday at 4 pm in the Wellspring Theater of the Epic Center, Kalamazoo. Born and trained in Russia, he talks to Cara Lieurance about how his teachers, including his father, Alexander Mndoyants, placed the highest emphasis on beautiful sound and touch at the keyboard. Mndoyants will perform three sonatas by Germanic composers Haydn, Beethoven, and Brahms, which he says almost amounts to the story of the progression of the sonata form. 

Mndoyants will also perform one of his own solo pieces, Intermezzo. He tries to write pieces that remain interesting to work on --  if he is bored, then others will be too, Mndoyants says. A number of his chamber works, as well as a violin concerto, have been premiered at international festivals and concerts in the last few years.

Shelley Mosman

The Venezuelan-born piano virtuoso Gabriela Montero will appear on the Piano Masters Series, presented by the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, on Nov 15 in Chenery Auditorium. On the phone from her home in Barcelona, Spain, Montero says the sonatas by Mozart (K. 311) and Beethoven (Op 53, "Waldstein") that open the program, both in C major, offer freshness and innocence but sudden surprises, too. 

Her gift for improvising, honed since childhood, is a communication tool, she says. It allows her to bring the past into the present. Montero hopes it helps audiences without classical music knowledge become more comfortable with it, when she plays a famous pop tune  as a Bach-like fugue or a Chopin-style waltz. Her improvisations, always different, can take her through the ages, uniting styles and even countries through music.