From America to the World.
Praised as „one of the most outstanding talents coming up today,“ American pianist Katie Mahan is capturing the attention of audiences throughout the world for her innovative musical personality, poetic interpretations, and graceful, charming stage presence. She possesses an unquestioned technical mastery combined with a kaleidoscopic palate of tone colors, and has been recognized as “a daring and innovative performer.“ A multi-faceted artist for whom music is an endless passion, Katie is at home in a broad repertoire ranging from Bach to Poulenc, and is particularly distinguished as an interpreter of the music of George Gershwin – performing her own daring, exciting solo piano arrangements to standing ovations across the globe – and Claude Debussy.
Katie’s life has always been filled with music, and at the age of four, inspired by attending a performance of Gershwin’s An American in Paris given by the famous French piano duo, Katia & Marielle Labèque, she decided that she wanted to be a concert pianist. She subsequently began piano studies with her mother, Bobette Mahan, giving her first solo recital two years later at the age of six. An American in Paris opened the door to the vast world of classical music for Katie, and her love of Gershwin quickly led her to discover the music of Debussy and Ravel, the French composers that Gershwin idolized. Although Katie’s music now takes her all over the world, she never forgets her American heritage, and the great American composer who inspired her to become a pianist. Her programs often feature her own classical arrangements of her beloved countryman’s music, alongside works of Debussy and the Viennese classical repertoire.
Katie’s greatest pianistic influence came from her studies with the celebrated French pianist Pascal Rogé, with whom she studied the music of the French Impressionists. Rogé – who traces his musical heritage directly back to the great French tradition of Debussy and Ravel – was not only an important pianistic influence on Katie, but also inspired her to devote years of study to the search for understanding of French music, art and stylistic tradition. Today, Katie’s playing epitomizes the French style of elegance, beauty and poetry. Thomas Veszelits of the Münchner Abendzeitung described Katie’s Debussy thus: „Seasoned concertgoers who had already heard Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, long acclaimed as the best interpreter of Debussy and Ravel, were impressed by Katie Mahan. With such richness of color, perfection of tone, and structural clarity, she takes her world class place alongside the Maestro.“
Since making her orchestral debut in 1999 performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F with the Breckenridge Symphony, Katie has appeared in concert throughout the USA, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Russia and Japan. She has performed with such celebrated conductors as Jiri Belohlavek, Marin Alsop – who described her as a pianist „in the style of Clara Schumann„, Grant Cooper, and Lawrence Leighton-Smith, among others, and in such famous halls as the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Prinzregenten Theatre in Munich, the great hall of the Moscow Conservatory in Moscow, and the Smetana Hall in Prague. Katie has participated in master classes by such musicians as Lang Lang – who praised her as “a fabulous pianist…full of emotion and originality” – Simon Trpceski, and Michel Béroff, and has recently preformed with orchestras including the Prague Philharmonia, Colorado Symphony, West Virginia Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Boulder Philharmonic, Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra, and the Wiener Residenz Orchestra, among others.
During the 2017-18 season, the American Embassy in Moscow will present Katie on a concert tour of Russia, highlighted by her Russian orchestral debut in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and a performance at the Platonov Festival in Voronezh. Further highlights of the season will include her Salzburg recital debut in the great hall of the Mozarteum, a recital tour of Germany, debuts with the New Mexico Philharmonic and Allentown Symphony, and recitals and concerto appearances throughout the USA, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands.
Katie has recorded eight independently released CDs featuring diverse repertoire, along with an all-Gershwin LP on the Berliner Meister Schallplatten label’s Direct-to-disc format that was released in July 2017. This past November Katie was also invited to record the complete solo piano works of Leonard Bernstein for international release in May 2018 by Deutsche Grammophon. The recording is part of a set of complete works in honor of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. In 2019, Katie will establish her own label, KM Classic, and the first releases will include a Debussy album and a Gershwin album, both scheduled to appear in 2019. In addition to her CD releases, Katie is committed to finding new ways to bring younger audiences to classical music through multimedia, and is in the process of producing innovative video projects on Debussy’s Clair de lune and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue which will accompany the upcoming albums.
Katie was a protégé of Howard Waltz – himself a student of the legendary French pianist Robert Casadesus – and studied with Robert Spillman at the University of Colorado College of Music where she graduated with highest honors. In addition to performing, Katie devotes her time and talent to the support of various humanitarian, medical, and educational causes. In 2014, Katie founded the Katie Mahan Foundation “Music for a Bright Tomorrow” whose objective is to promote classical music and to inspire giving through music. Katie is a Steinway artist and was awarded the Classic Superstar 2008 award by the Berliner Salon.
„Music has been the center of my life for as long as I can remember. I believe that it is one of the most precious gifts that mankind has been given. It transcends culture, time, religion, race, and social boundaries. It tells of history, nature, people, places, and events. It incorporates every known human emotion, speaks the unspeakable, and builds a bridge from the earthly to the sublime. It inspires beauty and desire, and has a power to unite people because it speaks to the common ground of all mankind, namely the soul“ – Katie Mahan
Hometown: Denver, Colorado USA
Birthday: January 14
Residences: Salzburg, Austria; Denver, Colorado
Why she lives in Salzburg: “I fell in love with the beauty of the Austrian landscape as a child, and I always dreamed someday to live in this beautiful city where Mozart lived and breathed!”
Siblings: Kris (younger brother)
Father’s occupation: Solar physicist
Mother’s occupation: Piano teacher
First piano teacher: Mother
Why she began learning the piano: I went to a concert given by the Labèque sisters when I was 4 years old, and I was so amazed by their beautiful music and glamorous clothes, I told my mom that’s what I wanted to do with my life. So I started piano the next day!”
Mentor: Pianist Pascal Rogé
Formal Education: University of Colorado College of Music
First solo concert: Denver, Colorado at age 6
Debut with orchestra: Breckenridge Music Festival performing Gershwin’s concerto in F
Favorite piece of music: “There are so many pieces I adore. It really depends on my mood on any given day. But, two pieces that are always on the top of my list are Mozart’s Requiem and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.”
First job: Piano teacher at the age of 13
Likes: Being with friends and family, cats, shopping, watching movies, sports, traveling, cooking, swimming, reading about music and history
Best things about being a pianist: “Making your living playing the most beautiful music ever written and seeing the world while playing it!”
Most difficult things about being a pianist: “Trying to have a normal private life and trying to get over jetlag once in a while!”
Most unusual concert venue: Performing in an ice cave inside the Swiss Alps (San Gottardo, Switzerland)
What characteristics best describe her: „I’m persistent, focused, determined, hard working and an individualist. I do everything my own way, and almost never follow the rulebook. I’m not sure if that is a positive or a negative, but it’s who I am and the way I do everything!“
What advice she would offer a kid: „Don’t be afraid to dream big. There will always be roadblocks on the way, as well as hard times and lots of people who try to discourage you, but if you believe in yourself, and you work hard and refuse to give up or give in, nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams.“
Favorite movies: An American in Paris, „James Bond. All of them!“; Criminal Minds
Favorite actors: Denzel Washington, Fred Astaire, Fritz Karl
Favorite music: Classical, Latin pop
Favorite athletes: Baryshnikov, Yevgeni Plushenko, Mariano Rivera
Favorite pianists: Martha Argerich, Lang Lang, Horowitz, Glenn Gould
What she would do if she were not a pianist: „I can’t imagine being anything other than a pianist! Music is my life and my passion; I’m miserable when I can’t play the piano!“
Favorite food: Pasta and seafood, Schweinsbraten, sushi, fruit, Sachertorte
Favorite drinks: Red wine, cappuccino
Favorite books: Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens), The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas), 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (Verne)
Favorite memories from childhood: „Traveling to different countries with my family, reading the funny stories my dad wrote for me about all the pretend things we dreamed up!, playing duets on the piano with my mom, watching Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker at Christmas, and playing on the beach in Hawaii“
What music means to her: „Music has been the center of my life for as long as I can remember. I believe that it is one of the most precious gifts that mankind has been given. It transcends culture, time, religion, race, and social boundaries. It tells of history, nature, people, places, and events. It incorporates every known human emotion, speaks the unspeakable, and builds a bridge from the earthly to the sublime. It inspires beauty and desire, and has a power to unite people because it speaks to the common ground of all mankind, namely the soul“