Gabriela Montero, Piano
Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique improvisational gifts have won her a devoted following around the world. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Gabriela gave her first public performance at the age of five. Aged eight she made her concerto debut with the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra conducted by Jose Antonio Abreu and was granted a scholarship from the Venezuelan Government to study in the USA.
Gabriela Montero’s 2009-2010 season began performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and John Williams’ Air and Simple Gifts with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Montero will debut with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performing works of Mozart and Grieg respectively before returning to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In Europe, Montero will appear with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and James Gaffigan before performances with the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra in March.
Ms. Montero will give several recital performances as a soloist and with French cellist Gautier Capucon with whom she frequently collaborates. North American engagements include appearances at the Perimeter Institute, Van Cliburn Foundation, Cornell University and Honens International Piano Competition in the fall, and at the Savannah Music Festival in the spring. In May, Montero and Capucon will go on a European recital tour that will includes performances in Italy, France and Germany. Ms. Montero will finish the season with festival appearances at the Ravinia Festival, Tuscan Sun Festival, Verbier Festival, and Bergen International Festival among others.
Ms. Montero often invites her audience to partiipate by asking for a melody for improvisations. They ask for themes from a Mozart symphony to Star Wars and at times, even the orchestra have a chance to suggest a theme if they so wish.
“When improvising, I connect to my audience in a completely unique way – and they connect with me. Because improvisation is such a huge part of who I am, it is the most natural and spontaneous way I can express myself. I have been improvising since my hands first touched the keyboard, but for many years I kept this aspect of my playing secret. Then Martha Argerich heard me improvising one day and encouraged me to make this part of my concert presentations. It was Martha who persuaded me that it was possible to combine my career as a serious classical artist with the side of me that is rather unique.”
Ms. Montero’s first EMI/Angel CD consisted of one disc of music by Rachmaninov, Chopin and Liszt and a second of her deeply felt and technically brilliant improvisations. Standing alongside inspired performances of core repertoire, improvisations plays as important a part in Ms. Montero’s life as it did for Bach and Mozart and, to show the link, her EMI CD Bach and Beyond is a complete disc of improvisations on themes by Bach which topped the charts for several months. In February 2008 her follow up EMI recording of improvisations, 'Baroque,' was released with great critical acclaim receiving 5 star reviews from BBC Music Magazine and Classic FM. In 2009 Baroque received a Grammy nomination both in the Best Classical Crossover Album category and as one of the albums in the Best Producer Category.
Ms. Montero’s 'Bach and Beyond' was given the “Choc de la musique de l’année” award in 2006 from The French Magazine Le Monde de la Musique. She rounded off the year 2006 with the Keyboard Instrumentalist of the Year at the ECHO Preis Award in Munich and in 2007, she earned the Klassik-ohne-Grenzen Award for her 'Bach and Beyond' CD for the second year in a row. Ms. Montero has been heard on NPR’s Performance Today 'Sing It and Wing It,' where listeners call in with a melody upon which Gabriela improvises. She has been profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes. In January 2009, at the invitation of President-Elect Barak Obama, Ms. Montero played in the quartet performance of John Williams’ Air and Simple Gifts at the 56th Inaugural Ceremony.