Described by the Gramophone as a “magician, bewitching our ears” for his hauntingly beautiful sound, flawless command of the instrument and mesmerizing phrasing, Ilya Kaler is the only violinist to win the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1986), the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki (1985), and the Paganini Competition in Genoa (1981). Kaler is considered to be one of the most outstanding personalities of the violin today whose career ranges from that of a soloist and recording artist to chamber musician and professor.
Mr. Kaler has earned rave reviews for his solo appearances with many distinguished orchestras throughout the world, including the Leningrad, Moscow, and Dresden Philharmonic Orchestras, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Danish and Berlin Radio Orchestras, the Moscow and Zurich Chamber Orchestras, as well as many of the major American orchestras such as Seattle and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, to name a few. Kaler collaborated with a number of outstanding conductors such as Valery Gergiev, Dmitry Kitaenko, Mariss Jansons, and Jerzy Semkow, performing extensively on five continents.
Mr. Kaler released multiple highly acclaimed recordings for the Naxos Records label, which include sonatas by Schumann and Brahms, concertos by Paganini, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Schumann, Dvořák , Glazunov, Szymanowski, and Karłowicz, as well as the Taneyev Suite, Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, and Ysaÿe ‘s Six Sonatas for Solo Violin. He has also released a Solo Violin CD under the Ongaku label and recorded extensive recital repertoire for Melodiya Records in Russia.
As a member of the Tempest Trio with cellist Amit Peled and pianist Alon Goldstein, Kaler enjoys a very busy touring career and performs in the most prestigious venues to the highest critical acclaim. The trio has recently released their debut CD on the Naxos label, featuring a complete set of piano trios by Antonin Dvořák .
One of the most sought-after teachers in the world, Kaler was recently chosen to join the violin faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music beginning in the fall of 2018 . He currently serves as Professor of Violin at the DePaul University School of Music (Chicago, IL). Kaler previously held Professor of Violin positions at the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY) and at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN). Summer teaching and performing engagements include the Chautauqua Music Festival, Heifetz International Music Institute, International Violin Mastercourse at the Keshet Eilon Music Center, Bowdoin International Music Festival, and the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, amongst others. Kaler is also frequently invited as a judge to the world’s most prestigious violin competitions, including the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Moscow, Russia), Sibelius International Violin Competition (Helsinki, Finland), Henri Marteau International Competition (Germany), as well as the International Music Competition (Harbin, China).
Ilya Kaler received his education at the Moscow Central Music School under Zinaida Gilels and at the Moscow State Conservatory under Leonid Kogan and Victor Tretyakov. Following his
formal education, influence and inspiration came from his long-time mentor, violinist and teacher Abram Shtern.
The return of Ilya Kaler
The Russian-born violinist delivers a prize-winning Paganini
BY JOHN W. BARKER APRIL 26, 2018
Kaler wowed the audience with a Bach encore.
Russian-born violinist Ilya Kaler made a stunning impression when he appeared with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra two seasons ago. Back then, Kaler presented a virtuoso performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. On April 20, the WCO brought Kaler back to Madison, and the soloist outdid himself by playing a concerto by Nicolò Paganini; Kaler won the Paganini Competition in Genoa in 1981. The Concerto No. 2 in B minor is known as La campanella, or “Little Bell.” The name derives from the final movement (which really includes a little bell), built upon a tune that both Paganini himself and then Liszt turned into a widely played solo piece. As music, this concerto is not particularly distinguished, and its purpose is to provide a platform for the soloist’s fireworks. It was originally played by the composer himself and is now tackled by violinists with boundless technique and a lot of nerve. Kaler plainly has both. The technical demands upon the soloist are absolutely fiendish, but Kaler showed that he was totally in command. And he apparently remembered that Paganini was an Italian, and managed to bring to a certain warmth to his playing, amid all the showiness, especially in the slow movement. The audience was appropriately wowed. As an encore Kaler gave them a beautifully nuanced Gavotte from Bach’s Violin Partita No. 3.
Ilya Kaler’s Tchaikovsky – a cut above!
The most recent LBSO concert, Saturday night at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach, was subtitled “The Seductress, the Prince and the Princess,” no doubt a nod to the “Carmen” suite that took up much of the second half of the mostly – but hardly all – Russian program.
A better title, if one was necessary at all, would have been “Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto and a Little More,” for it was the Tchaikovsky, in the more than capable hands of soloist Ilya Kaler, that was the centerpiece and even, if we must use French, the raison d’etre of the whole concert.
Kaler plays a Guarnerius violin and, like many an ancient instrument, it has a voice all its own. The Tchaikovsky is as well known as any violin concerto, and is usually played by an instrument of unsurpassed lightness of tone. Kaler’s instrument sounded a bit like it had just a touch of gravel in it, if that were possible, throatier and richer than other fiddles, fighting a bit against the constraints of Tchaikovsky’s music.
Kaler had every trick in his hands, from double stops to lightning changes from bowed passages to quick pizzicato and back, all without seeing any effort at all on his part. There were moments when his instrument’s voice was overpowered by the orchestra, but they were brief, and his passion and depth of feeling kept pace with all the technical brilliance.
Diemecke was nearly always in command of his forces and the work’s lyric and dramatic qualities were well-balanced. It was brilliant, but not just brilliant – technique was celebrated but not at the expense of musicality.
The audience gave Kaler three standing ovations: Diemecke has won them over to serious and lengthy pieces.
Violinist Kaler, symphony shine in performance of Tchaikovsky
March 5, 2010
By David Williams
For the Gazette-Mail
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The violinist Ilya Kaler’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major with the West Virginia Symphony drew a tremendous response Friday night at the Clay Center. That was from the orchestra, with players patting their legs and shuffling their feet on the floor, both time-honored ways of showing approval by players with instruments in their hands. Some even managed to balance their instruments on their laps and clap, vigorously.
The audience fairly went wild, showering Kaler with shouts of acclaim, a standing ovation and cries for an encore. After four curtain calls, Kaler did oblige with a bit of Bach, which drew more enthusiasm from the audience and the players. Tchaikovsky’s music is safe programming. Audiences still love it and turn out to hear it. I lean more to the view that Tchaikovsky’s music has started to wear out its welcome (although I will always love the Sixth Symphony).
But only the heartless could find anything to complain about in Kaler’s, and the orchestra’s, stunning performance of the Violin Concerto. His tone was creamy and rich and his passagework vibrant in the opening movement. The cadenza was all light-hearted brilliance with some impish humor. The slow movement dripped lyrical warmth. Kaler had arching lines of true sweetness. The finale bubbled with rhythmic vitality while his fingers flew around the strings. Gorgeous harmonics at the top of his range and a marvelously warm low register were exploited completely.
The orchestra was spot-on in support. The solo chairs in the winds, flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon played with lovely expression in little duets with the violin.
Violinist Kaler, Stradivari Society recital/Chicago
Feb. 17, 2010
“This performance was an inspired and inspiring clinic on great music-making and great violin playing. You are without peer among violinists of the past or present – meaning, you have found a way to combine all that is best among both “breeds” of artists: the one you described as “vanishing,” and the one that audiences demand today. You have the impeccable technical equipment to dazzle those who wish only to move from one dazzling experience to another, true children of the 21st century. But you have recovered the art of the earlier violin-playing geniuses who placed greater value on musicianship and communication than on mere technical display. And you do this without exaggeration or self-indulgence, always well within the boundaries of good taste and authoritative style. An hour of hearing you play makes all barriers disappear: the music prevails, time stands still and the experience is magical.”
Alan Heatherington, Music Director
Lake Forest Symphony
Peninsula Music Festival wrapped up: ILYA KALER ALWAYS DELIVERS
Peninsula Music Festival wrapped up its three week concert series with an array of great music and three very fine soloists.
The Aug. 18 event was an all-Russian evening and featured the Khachaturian violin concerto with Ilya Kaler as soloist.
Kaler stepped in at the last moment to replace Valentin Zhuk, who was unable to appear. It was very unfortunate that governmental bureaucratic complexities prevented Zhuk, also scheduled to be concertmaster, from appearing. Not only was he to play one of his favorite works, PMF was using the occasion to honor his 75th birthday.
Yet, small miracles do happen. It was quite astonishing that on very short notice PMF was able to attain a musician of Kaler’s caliber who happens to have the work in his repertoire.
I found Kaler to be a no-nonsense violinist. He played Khachaturian’s sweeping melodies with expressiveness and eloquence. His delivery was confident, and he displayed total involvement with the orchestra. Kaler’s stage demeanor reminded me of the legendary Jascha Heifetz. The violinist played music of Bach as an encore.
He is such a pleasure to work with, a gentleman, a wonderful colleague and musical partner. He is a model soloist who many young soloists should aspire to imitate in their political, diplomatic and musical efforts. Not everyone is gifted this way, but he endears himself to the orchestra, the audience, donors and supporters. I can’t say enough good things about him. He has no airs and graces. Old school. Knows his stuff. Does the job. Complete musician. A joy and pleasure to work with on all fronts and of course, he can deliver in spades artistically.
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
April 20, 2018
Ilya was amazing – a true master, indeed! In fact, the audience here gave a standing ovation at the end of the first movement of the Tchaikovsky! It was truly a pleasure to have him here… he was extremely gracious in every regard. The Master Class on Sunday was well attended, and again, Ilya showed his strength as a performer, but also as a teacher.
Paducah Symphony Orchestra
“Ilya was wonderful, of course. The audience was enamored with his playing. While the Shostakovich is difficult for many to truly appreciate, his playing was brilliant. The fact that he held the audience for the entire experience was a testament to his fantastic playing.”
— Marty W. Merkley
Vice President and Director of Programming
Concerto in E BWV 1042
Triple Concerto in C, op. 56
Romance in G op. 40
Romance in F, op. 50
Double Concerto in A, op. 102
Scottish Fantasy, op. 46
Romance in F, op. 11
Concerto in D, KV 218
Concerto in A, KV 219
Concerto in D, KV 271-a
Adagio in E, KV 261
Rondo in C, KV 373
Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for violin and viola
Concerto NO. 2 in B “La Campanella”
Concerto No.2 in G, op. 63
Introduction and Rondo-Capriccioso op. 28
Havanaise op. 83
Concerto No. 2, op. 129
Concerto No.2, op. 61
Serenade melancholique op. 26
Waltz-Scherzo op. 34
Souvenir de lieu cher (Meditation, Scherzo and Melodie), op. 42
Wieniawski: Concerto No. 2 in D, op. 22
Faust-Fantasy, op. 20