VESTARD SHIMKUS was born in Latvia, on August 21st, 1984, and began to gain an international recognition as a remarkably exciting concert pianist after having several successful debut performances with BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, KREMERata Baltica, Nord-West Deutche Philharmonie, Orquesrta Sinfonica del Valles and Tallin Chamber Orchestra in such concert halls as Wiener Konzerthaus, Tokyo Opera City, Salle O.Messiaen (Paris), Berwald hall and Kontserthuset (Stockholm), Moscow Conservatory, Prague Rudolfinum and Amsterdam Concertgebow among others as well as after becoming a 1st-prize-winner of several international piano competitions, including the 55th Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona (Spain, 2009) and the 5th Bad Kissingen KlavierOlympiade international piano competition (Germany, 2007).
Shimkus began his piano studies at age of five in Emils Darzins Music School in Riga. He has studied with Dmitri Bashkirov and Claudio Martinez Mehner in Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia (Madrid), Daniel Pollack in University of Southern California (Los Angeles), Vadim Suchanov in Richard Strauss Konservatorium (Munich), has also studied composition with Peteris Vasks and has participated in several piano master classes under Boris Berman, Lazar Berman, Alexander Satz, Emanuel Krasowsky, Joan Havil and Igor Zhukov.
Shimkus� collaborations with such conductors as Lawrence Foster, Andris Nelsons, Vassily Sinaisky, Anu Tali, Eri Klas, Jonathan Darlington, Salvador Brotons and Woldemar Nelsson as well as his recital, concerto and chamber music performances throughout Europe, USA, Middle-East and Japan have often brought a storm of appreciation from audiences and critics. He has been invited to give performances in some of the greatest classical music festivals, including Kissinger Sommer Festival in Bad Kissingen, Germany (2008), Bergen Festival, Norway (2006), Gidon Kremer Festival in Lockenhaus, Austria (2005), KREMERata Baltica Festival in Sigulda, Latvia (2004, 2005), Stoke-on-Trent Festival, UK (2007), Stavanger International Chamber Music Festival, Norway (2004) and Al Bustan Festival in Beirut, Lebanon (2005, 2007).
Vestard Shimkus has been a stipendiate of the foundation "New Names of the Planet", has been awarded with the "White Star" Order of Estonia and "Grand Music Award of Latvia 2002" and has received "The Person of the Year" award of the encyclopedia "Who Is Who" in 2003 as well as the "Culture Award 2002", "Culture Award 2003" and "Culture Award 2004" of the biggest Latvian newspaper "Diena". Some of his compositions have been published by "SCHOTT Music & Media". His newly composed Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra was premiered on July 2008.
During the 2009-10 concert season, his further engagements include a solo CD-album recording on ‘Naxos’ label with piano sonatas of Spanish baroque composer Antonio Soler, a CD-album recording on "Wergo" label with the world premiere recordings of "The Four Seasons" piano cycle by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, a tour in China and recital and concerto appearances in New York, Rome, Paris and throughout Spain.
Shimkus is also a jazz pianist and has given several solo concerts consisting just of his spontaneous improvisations.
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"Vestard Shimkus is a PHENOMENON! He has his own personality, self-confidence and technical brilliance. Some people may talk about the end of the age of the classical music but when you hear a Shimkus' performance, you can be sure that classical music is quite well."
(Paavo Jarvi, the chief conductor of The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, February 2003)
"He is AMAZING!" (Desert News, June 1999)
"Pianist Vestard Shimkus proved to be an inspired late substitute for Aleksandar Madzar as conductor Andris Nelsons took charge of the BBC Philharmonic at The Victoria Hall in Hanley on 14 December 2007. (...) Aleksandar Madzar didn�t turn up, and instead we got 23-year-old Vestard Shimkus, who I now have heard of, and want to hear more of. I�ve mentioned before that concert promoters seem to work on the principal of; �Try the lad out up Hanley, duck, and if they like him he�ll do all right on the international circuit.� Well, we did, and he will. (...)You take it for granted that anyone who can actually get through Rachmaninov�s third piano concerto without coming a cropper should be taken pretty seriously. But to give it -- as Shimkus did -- personality and feeling as well shows something special. I don�t know how much time Nelsons and Shimkus had together to work on the concerto -- he was a late substitute, remember -- but they have Riga in Latvia in common in their c.v.s, which suggests they know each other. Suffice it to say their enthusiasm was mutual, and brought a storm of appreciation. Shimkus had to be practically dragged off stage after two encores." (BBC, December 2007)
"By performing Beethoven�s Sonata op.110, Vestard Shimkus created a grand spiritual dimension by offering us a rich palette of emotions and resonant chords that echoed to an unheard amplitude. (�) His performance of Liszt�s Spanish Rhapsody was a total triumph of Shimkus, who lifted this explosive piece up on his shoulders with a lightness of a feather. By interpreting this piece, he created a thunderstorm, then fought with it, crossed the arenas, wandered in secret gardens, encountered eyes full of desire and played it all with an unsurpassable elegance and bravery. (�) Astonished by the whole recital of Shimkus, the audience was totally overtaken by the charm of the young pianist and gave him tempestuous ovations. (�) At age of 23, he is an absolute master of piano playing and has an immense talent that leaves the listeners amazed and nailed to their seats." (L�Orient le Jour, March 2007)
"Stauen ohne Ende. Vestard Shimkus, Gewinner der Kissinger KlavierOlympiade 2007, begl�ckt sich immer wieder neu mit seinem eigenen Spiel. Nicht aus Eitelkeit, sondern aus purer Lust an der Kraft der Musik, die gleichsam durch ihn hindurchflie�t. Das ist ansteckend, keine Frage. Seine Interpretation von Brahms' � oft geh�rtem � erstem Klavierkonzert bei der Rosengala des Kissinger Sommers hat deshalb etwas von einer Urauff�hrung. Shimkus ist nat�rlich ein brillanter Techniker. Aber deren gibt es viele. Was sein Spiel so spannend macht, ist diese Mischung aus Kontrolle, Struktur, Klarheit und Spontaneit�t. Dass er das erste wirklich wuchtige Fortissimo so sp�t bringt, ist nat�rlich ein kalkulierter Effekt. F�r den Zuh�rer (und eben auch f�r ihn selbst) kommt er trotzdem ebenso �berraschend wie �berw�ltigend. Und so nimmt das Staunen kein Ende. (...) Staunen und Schmunzeln machen auch die beiden filigranen Zugaben." (Main Post, June 2008)
�Glenn Gould. Piano Works� (Schott Music & Media, 2006). Piano music of Glenn Gould. The CD is available as an addition to the book �Glenn Gould. Die Biographie� by Kevin Bazzana.
�Fantasies� (Carmina Baltica, 2003). Piano works of Bach-Busoni, Chopin, Liszt, Mozart-Liszt and Mendelssohn-Horowitz.
In addition, Vestard Shimkus has made several recordings for radio and TV.