Gerstein’s path to Gilmore glory

Posted on: May 27, 2010

“ ‘Let the sky rain potatoes,’ declared Shakespeare’s Falstaff, bidding the gods to shower him with fertility and good fortune,” writes Stuart Isacoff in Thursday’s (5/27) Wall Street Journal. “If he were a pianist, the request would likely be for a Gilmore Award—a prize worth $300,000 and given to a pianist every four years by a secret jury that assesses candidates without their knowledge. Such riches don’t normally fall from the sky. But for Kirill Gerstein, age 30, it might seem that way. In January, he was announced as this year’s Gilmore winner. Then in April, Lincoln Center conferred its prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, worth $25,000. For a pianist with less than marquee status, it was a jackpot of huge proportions. … The journey has been interesting, and not always easy. … Even at the age of 3, there was ear training, learning notation, singing and playing piano.” As a teen, Gerstein studied jazz intensely at Berklee College of Music before reaching a crossroads between jazz and classical playing. He eventually chose the latter. “The results could be heard at the Gilmore’s closing Gala Concert on May 8, when Mr. Gerstein presented both his ‘Russian side and jazzy upbringing’ by performing Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue.’ ”

Posted May 27, 2010