Entertainment and Music Lifestyle

Asheville Symphony and Brevard Music Center Bring Pianist Olga Kern to WNC Audiences

Olga Kern. Photo by Chris Lee

By Gina Malone

For its season finale, Masterworks 7: Titan, Asheville Symphony has partnered with Brevard Music Center (BMC) to present premiere pianist Olga Kern in a performance on Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. at BMC’s Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium. On Tuesday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m., Kern will play a solo recital at BMC’s Parker Concert Hall.

“It is a special treat for the Asheville Symphony to collaborate with Brevard Music Center to make the final Masterworks concert of our season possible,” says Daniel Crupi, executive director of the Asheville Symphony. The closure last summer of the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium meant that the Symphony was left without a venue large enough to accommodate the 90-plus-person orchestra necessary for Mahler’s Titan. “Fortunately, our friends at BMC extended a hand to help—made all the more poetic by the fact that BMC’s new president and CEO, Jason Posnock, served as the Asheville Symphony’s concertmaster for 16 years,” Crupi says.

“Playing Mahler symphonies has become a benchmark of musical excellence for symphony orchestras, as they are emotionally charged masterworks always composed with a massive orchestra in mind,” says Asheville Symphony music director Darko Butorac. “It is a treat for the audience, for it is truly an epic listening experience, akin to someone summiting a grand peak for the very first time.” The program will also feature Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, which, Butorac notes, is a piece that Kern is known for interpreting masterfully. “It is a timeless classic—audiences will immediately recognize the stunning opening—and I feel so grateful we are able to share the stage with such an important musician,” he says.

Kern was born into a family of musicians and began studying piano at the age of five. She launched her US career in 2001, becoming the only woman in the last 50 years to win the Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Kern has served on the juries of several high-level competitions, including the Cliburn International Amateur Competition and the 1st Chopin Animato International Piano Competition in France. Since 2017, she has been a member of the piano faculty at the Manhattan School of Music.

“Brevard Music Center is thrilled to collaborate with the Asheville Symphony to bring Olga Kern back to Western North Carolina,” says Posnock. “Olga is a generational artist, and it will be wonderful for our shared audiences to hear her in recital in the intimate setting of Parker Concert Hall, and then on the big stage just a few days later with the Asheville Symphony performing Tchaikovsky. Exciting things happen when arts organizations work together and make the most of their creative resources.”

Learn more and purchase tickets at AshevilleSymphony.org or by phone at 828.254.7046.

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