Pianist Kirill Gerstein brings fire and fury to the stage [sponsored]

The SF Symphony is teaming with renowned Russian-American pianist Kirill Gerstein to bring another transformational program to Davies Symphony Hall.

Lauded for his masterful technique and musical curiosity, Gerstein is set to perform Johannes Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 with the SF Symphony from May 25-26.

Brahms performed his first piano concerto as a soloist in 1859 when he was just 25 years old. According to biographers, the intensity and fiery passion in the opening was fueled by his emotional response to the attempted suicide of his close friend and mentor.

The concerto is broken into three movements; a sweeping, emotional opening, then a dreamy adagio that evokes spiritual contemplation that's capped with a jaunty finale.

Photo: Kirill Gerstein

Visiting San Francisco after a whirlwind European tour, Gerstein is the sixth recipient of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, presented every four years for "extraordinary piano artistry."

Growing up in Russia, Gerstein taught himself to play jazz while studying classical music at a school for gifted students. At 14, he moved to the United States to study jazz piano, becoming the youngest student to enroll at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

Despite his advanced studies on classical music, his early jazz training laid a foundation for his expressive and energetic musical personality.

Playing alongside the SF Symphony under the direction of conductor David Robertson, Gerstein is also set to perform Engelsflügel by contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean, and Joseph Haydn's bold and surprising Symphony No. 102, first performed for London audiences in 1794.

Shows begin at 8 p.m. Friday, May 25, and Saturday, May 26, at Davies Symphony Hall. Ticket holders are encouraged to arrive one hour early to join a free discussion that will take listeners inside the music before the concert.

Purchase tickets now from the SF Symphony's online box office.

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Pianist kirill gerstein brings fire and fury to the stage sponsored