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Q&A | 21 Questions For Kirill Gerstein

By Michael Vincent on September 28, 2015

Photo: Marco Boggreve
Pianist Kirill Gerstein Photo: Marco Boggreve

Every so often, MT poses 60 questions to a local or visiting artist in Toronto who has made our classical music community that much more interesting. They pick and choose. The minimum response is 20 answers. A kind of Rorschach personality test, if you will.

Be it Jazz or Classical, Kirill Gerstein is equally at home. His early training and experience in jazz has helped guide his interpretive style, inspiring an energetic and expressive musical personality that distinguishes his playing.

Born in 1979 in Voronezh, in southwestern Russia, Mr. Gerstein studied piano at a special music school for gifted children. At age 14 he grabbed the attention of vibraphonist Gary Burton and moved to the United States. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany, and in the U.S, he is both Artist-in-Residence at Berklee College of Music and a member of the piano and chamber music faculty at Boston Conservatory.


Default drink/cocktail of choice?


Name your favourite concert hall/venue anywhere?

Musikverein in Vienna and Symphony Hall in Boston.

Your least favourite sound?

Metal against glass.

Your favourite smells?

I love the smell of lilacs blooming.

The first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Toronto?

As a musician and pianist, I have to answer: Glenn Gould.

The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair?

This is a topic I think of less and less…

If you could board a plane this afternoon, where would it be taking you?

Iceland – I am very fascinated by it.

Whose musical style do you covet?

Rachmaninoff and Busoni – both as composers and pianists. Incidentally, both born on April 1.

Where was the last place you traveled to for work or pleasure?

Last week was Frankfurt. This summer I made a round-the-world trip: Germany- US-New Zealand-Australia-Thailand-Israel-Germany.

What is your biggest phobia?

To stop developing as a person and as a musician.

Where did you go to school?

Significant places I learned in are Voronezh, Russia; Boston, MA; New York, NY; Madrid, Spain; Lake Como, Italy; Engelberg, Switzerland; Salzburg, Austria; Budapest, Hungary.

The strangest talent that you possess?

I am a very good Google searcher.

Under what circumstances would you join the army?


What is the best thing about your work?

My “work” (which doesn’t feel like work most of the time) has the benefit of letting me touch the creations of history’s great musical minds on a daily basis.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?


What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

Percussion, but not so secretly. And violin, but that’s dreaming, not longing.

What sport did you give up and why?

Didn’t pick any, so nothing to give up.

What is the game that you’re best at?


The first three things that you do every morning?

Get out of bed, shower, and seek out the best possible cup of coffee.

The best way to die?

With your memory intact.

The piece of music you want played at your funeral?

Silence is wonderful!

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig van Toronto. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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