Queen of classical returns
VAIL – Olga Kern was born with music running through her blood. The 30-year-old pianist has direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Her parents are both classical pianists, and now her 7-year-old son, Vladislav, has taken to the ivories.”I think I heard music when I was in my mother’s belly. I’m sure of it,” Kern said in a thick Russian accent. “In my house, music was everywhere all the time. When I played the piano for the first time, I just fell in love with it. My son has started to play, and he’s very good. I couldn’t imagine my life without music. I just love music so much.” Vail fell in love, too, when the petite Russian blonde stepped on stage in her sweeping ball gown and romanced the audience at the piano during Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival’s opening night last year alongside the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. And she’ll do it again this evening.
Kern will play one of her favorite pieces, Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor,” a melody, she said, you will fall in love with by the first note. She feels a special connection to the Russian composer because her great grandmother, a singer, met him at one of his performances. Kern still holds the program from that night.”I always feel Rachmaninov behind me. And I’m not crazy. He has such a strong personality. He is such a genius. I have loved his music since I was little,” she said. “He is such a great celebration of music, and I always share my love of music. I hope Vail can understand my love and share it.”Her passion is evident in her performances. She moves the audience to feel every emotion as she is feeling it. When she is done playing, you realize that you have hardly taken a breath since she began. It is with that passionate talent that earned her one of the most prestigious awards in classical music. In 2001, Kern was awarded the Gold Medal at the 11th Elizabeth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition – the first woman to have achieved this distinction in more than 30 years. She humbly refers to the award as her biggest success.
Her born talent is not without devotion. Kern practices every day, all day if she can. In fact, she can’t stay away from it.”When I see a piano, I always go and play it,” she said. “When I was in Luxembourg, there was a bar in a hotel and I saw a nice Yamaha. Nobody was playing it so I thought, maybe I’ll go play it. The people were so happy. They just kept applauding.”So what can tonight’s audience expect from her performance?”Maybe some encores,” Kern said.
If we’re lucky.”It’s like a different world when I’m on stage, when I perform,” she said. I talk to some different world but it’s above me. I can’t even explain what it is. It’s like my fingers are sometimes just doing this without me moving them. It’s like someone else is moving you from somewhere, and this is the best moment of all life.”Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or firstname.lastname@example.org.