The year 1990 was a milestone for pianist Kevin Kenner whose artistry was recognized throughout the world by three prestigious awards: the top prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the International Terrence Judd Award in London, and third prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. He had already won awards at the Van Cliburn International Competition and the Gina Bachauer International Competition.
Kevin Kenner’s achievements have won him critical acclaim throughout the world. He has been praised as “one of the finest American pianists to come along in years” (Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune). The Independent describes one of Kenner’s recitals as “…the best performance I have ever heard in the concert hall of all four of Chopin’s Ballades”. The Financial Times described Kenner as a “player of grace, subtle variety and strength, with a mature grasp of dramatic structure and proportion: in short, a grown-up musician nearing his peak.” And the Washington Post proclaimed him “a major talent… an artist whose intellect, imagination and pianism speak powerfully and eloquently.” Conductor Stanisław Skrowaczewski described his collaborations with Kevin Kenner to be the most sensitive and beautiful he remembered.
Born in southern California, Kenner showed his interest in piano from a very young age and studied there with Polish pianist Krzysztof Brzuza. As a teenager, Brzuza sent him to Poland to audition for the eminent professor Ludwik Stefański, who immediately prepared him for the 1980 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, where he was the youngest competitor and in which he received a special award from the jury. Following the death of his Polish teacher, he continued his studies for the next five years with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. As a student he benefited much from his years at the Tanglewood Music Festival where he had the occasion to work with Leonard Bernstein. Returning to Europe once again, Kenner concluded his formal training in Hannover with Karl-Heinz Kämmerling and made his permanent home in Europe, firstly in England, where he taught for many years at the Royal College of Music in London, followed by a post in Poland, in Kraków. In 2015 Kenner also accepted a professorship in the United States, at the Frost School of Music, University of Miami. Apart from his work as a teacher, he has served on juries of some of the most celebrated international piano competitions.
Kenner has performed as soloist with world-class orchestras including the Hallé, BBC Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Warsaw Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Belgium, Orchestra of the 18th Century, NHK Symphony of Japan, San Francisco Symphony, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has collaborated with conductors such as the late Sir Charles Groves, Andrew Davis, Hans Vonk, Jiří Bělohlávek, Jahja Ling, Jacek Kaspszyk, Stanisław Skrowaczewski, Antoni Wit and Jerzy Maksymiuk.
He has joined with string quartets such as the Belcea, Tokyo, Endellion, Vogler, Casal and Panocha, and worked as duo partner with cellist Matt Haimovitz, and since 2011 with Kyung Wha Chung, with whom he made his début at the 2016 Verbier Festival. He is a frequent guest at the Great Mountains Music Festival in Korea and the Chopin and His Europe Festival in Poland, and he recently made a solo recital tour of China.
Kevin Kenner’s recordings are distributed internationally and include many discs of the works of Chopin as well as recordings of Ravel, Schumann, Beethoven, Piazzolla and Paderewski, the latter two having won special prizes. His CD “Chopin Resonances” was singled out by Gramophone Magazine as the Editor’s Choice and was nominated for the International Classical Music Awards in France. His latest recording, an album of the late works of Chopin, is due for release in 2018.