The Russian-born pianist Kirill Gerstein won several major awards in the U.S., where he was partly trained. He is a truly international figure, familiar as a pianist in several countries, and dividing his time between the U.S., where he became a citizen in 2003, and Germany, where he is a noted educator. Of Jewish background, Gerstein was born in Voronezh, in what was then the Soviet Union, on October 23, 1979. He started playing the piano at age three, and was influenced not only by classical piano teachers but the jazz from his parents' collection that he heard on the family record player. He took home his first prize, at the International Bach Competition in Poland when he was 11, but it was jazz that led him to a breakthrough: meeting jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton at a festival in St. Petersburg where Burton was performing, he was ...
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