Sergei Babayan is the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Gilliam Artist-in-Residence at The Cleveland Institute of Music. One of the most charismatic personalities on today's concert stage, Mr. Babayan's vibrantly expressive performances have inspired audience acclaim worldwide. Ever since his arrival here in the United States, on his first trip outside of the Soviet Union in 1989, his gifts of breathtaking virtuosity and a wide-ranging tonal pallette have brought him critical praise and accolades. He is the winner of four first prizes in international piano competitions, including the 1989 Robert Casadesus International Piano Competition in Cleveland (marking the first time a Soviet artist had competed without government sponsorship), the Palm Beach Competition (1990), the Hamamatsu Competition in Japan (1991), and the Scottish Competition (1992). He is also a Queen Elizabeth Competition (Brussels) Laureate, and a winner of the Busoni (Italy), and the Esther Honens Competitions (Calgary, Alberta).
Sergei Babayan was born in Armenia to a musical family and started to play the piano at the age of three. He began his musical studies at the age of six under Luisa Markaryan and later with George Saradjev. He continued his studies at nineteen with Mikhail Pletnev at the Moscow Conservatory and completed post-graduate work there in 1989 as a student of Professor Vera Gornostaeva. He also studied privately with Lev Naumov in Moscow.
After making his New York recital debut in 1990 at Alice Tully Hall to great critical acclaim, Mr. Babayan embarked on a busy schedule that has included solo appearances with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Osaka Symphony, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Slovenska Filharmonia of Bratislava, the Brno Philharmonic, the Bergamo Symphony of Italy, the Florida Orchestra, West Virginia Symphony, New World Symphony, and Orchestre National de Lille.
His recital appearances have included the cities of New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Sarasota, Toledo, Santa Fe, Fresno, Birmingham, San Juan, Calgary and Toronto. In Japan he has performed in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo and Nagoya; in Europe, he has appeared in recital in Glasgow, Lisbon, Freiburg, Grenoble, Hannover and Paris.
Festival appearances have included the Mayfest in Glasgow, the Duszniki Chopin Festival in Poland, and the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg. Mr. Babayan has also been heard in concert on WQXR in New York, WCLV in Cleveland, and on Radio France, Polish Radio and TV, and BBC-TV.
Mr. Babayan commenced the 1997-98 season with a pianistic milestone: his performances of the complete Beethoven Sonatas, beginning with two concerts in Cleveland encompassing the first ten sonatas. 1997-98 also included chamber music appearances in Toronto and Chicago, and a return to the Krannert Center. He gave highly praised master classes and a recital at the Van Cliburn Institute in Ft. Worth, performed in Spain at the Lucena Festival, and performed the Rachmaninoff First Concerto at the Orford Festival in Canada, where he also taught. A return recital invitation to open the Chopin Duszniki Festival in Poland was broadcast for radio and television, and was warmly received. In addition, Mr. Babayan made his debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at the Meadow Brook Festival in a performance of the Grieg Concerto, conducted by Neeme Järvi.
The 1998-99 season began in Germany with cellist Suren Bagratuni in a duo concert, followed by a solo recital tour in England, and the inaugural season of Mr. Babayan's own chamber music festival in Mexico. Last winter, two solo recitals at The Institute of Music and a duo concert with Mr. Bagratuni were followed by a highly praised all-Bach concert which included the "Goldberg Variations" on the Music from Saint Gall series. In March, the duo appeared in concert at Weill Recital Hall in New York. Their performance was later filmed at Steinway Hall for NHK satellite television in Japan, and was aired there this summer on "The Classical Hour" series. Mr. Babayan also taped a solo recital for the series. This past summer, he performed chamber music at the Orford and Music at Gretna festivals. Upcoming concerto appearances include Prokoviev's Third in New Mexico, Rachmaninoff's Second in Santo Domingo, and three performances of the Rachmaninoff at the New Hampshire Music Festival. Next season will include solo recitals in Detroit and at the Warsaw Philharmonic in Poland.
His CD recording of 20th century works by Vine, Messiaen, Ligeti, and Respighi was released recently on the ProPiano label and has already garnered acclaim in the press, including a "critic's choice" review in The New York Times. A recording of Scarlatti Sonatas (ProPiano) has also been widely acclaimed. These CDs join Mr. Babayan's two other releases: works of Mendelssohn and Schubert-Liszt on Discover International, and a Ravel, Prokofiev and Liszt recital on the Connoisseur Society label.
In 1997, four of his students were admitted, in an unprecedented decision, to participate in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Mr. Babayan is the founder and director of the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy, which was established at The Cleveland Institute of Music in 1995.
Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy Website: http://www.cim.edu/specProgBabayan.php