Grand Encounters

Young stars, Grammy winners and trailblazers: Olga Kern, Isaiah J. Thompson, Kenny Broberg, Cyrus Chestnut, Bill Charlap and Sara Davis Buechner perform in our ninth edition of Grand Encounters!



The season begins with an enthralling journey through romantic works by Rachmaninoff, Schumann and Gershwin with Olga Kern, described by The Washington Post as possessing “electricity at the keyboard that is palpable,” and praised by Bachtrack for her “utterly mesmerizing” playing.

Highlights to be heard in in the beautiful Grand Hall at Indiana Landmarks Center include Shumann’s Carnaval, an exquisite collection of miniatures representing a masked ball, and Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Corelli.

December brings the return of 2023 American Pianists Awards winner Isaiah J. Thompson to The Jazz Kitchen. Always interested in exploring a variety of arrangements, he will bring a quartet including tenor sax, drums and bass to the stage.

NPR calls Isaiah “a young musician and composer with a mature touch and rare combination of talent, creativity, humility and honesty,” and Jay Harvey found his Awards performances “bouncy, inspired and delightfully witty.”

2021 Awards winner Kenny Broberg performed in an empty Basile Theater at the Indiana History Center in his winning season due to the pandemic. This time, live audiences will enjoy a program highlighted by the grand, emotionally expansive Brahms Piano Sonata No.3 in this intimate setting in January 2024. “Broberg brought the audience on a journey in which it was easy to get lost in every beautiful, tragic, or tempestuous moment,” exclaimed South Florida Classical Review after a recent performance.

Next, two familiar faces from the 2023 Awards take their turns on stage at The Jazz Kitchen: Cyrus Chestnut, who served on the jury, balances soulful style and full-bore swinging in February; and Grammy Award-winning pianist Bill Charlap, Gala Finals emcee, brings his lauded trio of over twenty years in April. NPR says Cyrus “knows how to conjure up a spirit of genuine romance,” while DownBeat magazine notes Bill’s “deep sense of swing already sets him apart from the pack, but his repertoire is a special bonus.”

The season concludes with 1981 American Pianists Awards winner Sara Davis Buecher’s autobiographical theater show, "Of Pigs and Pianos,” which details her journey through music and life as a transgender woman coming of age in New York City at the end of the 20th century. The New York Times observed, “Buechner’s story, though often wrenching, was rich with childhood fantasies, wistful longings and absurd turns that had the audience laughing along."


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