THOMASVILLE — Thomasville Entertainment Foundation continues its 2005-2006 season Jan. 13 with a concert by pianist Olga Kern, featuring works by Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Liszt.

“She’s probably one of the most exciting and dynamic concert pianists working right now,” said George Swift, TEF board trustee. “She has virtuosity and an exciting stage presence. She’s quite glamorous and young. She’s famous for her interpretations of 19th century romantic music Liszt and Rachmaninoff.”

Kern’s career began in 2001 when she won the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, the first woman to have done so in more than 30 years.

She has since toured the United States captivating fans and critics with her passionate, confident musical ability and stage presence.

On May 1, 2004, Kern made a highly acclaimed New York City recital debut at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall and, 11 days later, gave a recital in Isaac Stern Auditorium at the invitation of Carnegie Hall.

Kern, who began studying music at age 5, was born in Russia into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

She began her formal training with acclaimed teacher Evgeny Timakin at the Moscow Central School and continued with Sergei Dorensky at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, where she was a postgraduate student, and studied with Boris Petrushansky at the acclaimed Accademia Pianistica Incontri col Maestro in Imola, Italy.

Kern won the first Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition at age 17 and is a laureate of 11 international competitions.

She received an honorary scholarship from the president of Russia in 1996 and is a member of Russia’s International Academy of Arts.

Kern has performed in several of the world’s most important venues such as the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Symphony Hall in Osaka, La Scala in Milan and Tonhalle in Zurich.

She has appeared as soloist at numerous venues, including the Bolshoi Theater, Salzburger Festspiele, the Moscow Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Symphony, China Symphony, Belgrade Philharmonic and La Scala Philharmonic. She has also performed with the Kirov Orchestra under the direction of Valery Gergiev at the Kennedy Center.

Kern records exclusively for harmonia mundi and has been featured on several albums. Her newest recording features works by Rachmaninoff and Balakirev.

Kern has been a recent guest artist at several international music festivals like the Klavier Ruhr and Kissinger Sommer festivals in Germany, Casadesus festivals in France and the Busoni Festival in Italy.

She has toured internationally in Europe, Russia, Austria, the United States, Japan and South Africa, where she returned in February to perform all four Rachmaninoff piano concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini three times over a span of six days — an unprecedented feat undertaken for her South African audience.

In 2005, she performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in Wiesbaden; at the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro James Conlon; and made her Hollywood Bowl debut performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the direction of Maestro Alexander Mickelthwate.

Kern’s 2006 schedule includes a recital tour of the United States, several orchestral engagements, a performance at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico in February, a debut with the Taipei Symphony in June and a debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall this Spring.

“My wife and I have heard a recital by her, not in person, but on the radio,” said Swift. “She will be playing a very typical program of romantic music and all are going to be very exciting pieces. Everywhere she goes, she receives huge ovations. She is a major concert artist. We’re hearing somebody that is still young and fairly new but very exciting.”

“We’re so fortunate to have someone who has played in so many of the world’s most important venues to be a part of our series in Thomasville,” said Lois Elam, TEF president. “She’s played all over the world.”

Thomasville Entertainment Foundation is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization founded in 1937. Its annual concert series features internationally celebrated artists and ensembles in the fields of opera, theater, dance, classical music, jazz and other forms of entertainment.

The organization also provides concerts, classes and workshops for area youths and scholarships for outstanding young musicians.

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