Biography

Since her professional debut performing the “Rhapsody in Blue” at the age of thirteen, the award-winning pianist Katherine A. Svistoonoff has been sought after throughout Europe, Australia, and the Americas to perform as recitalist, concerto soloist, and chamber musician. She grew up with a love of classic works for the piano, drawing inspiration from countless hours listening to the sonorous tone of opera and recordings from the Golden Age of piano performance. Later, finding a passion for the compositions of today, she began performing recent music, and works written expressly for her.

Ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to the young American composer Michael Deall, her repertoire reflects a dedication to performing solo and chamber works, as well as concerti, of all eras. Recently, she and baritone Mitchell Galloway-Edgar premiered the song cycle Another Sleep by the acclaimed American composer Ned Rorem in Houston, Texas.

Critics the world over praise Katherine in performance, saying that she “reveal[s] a big round tone free of any unpleasant percussiveness, an impressive color palette, ranging from a lustrous white at the treble to a velvety depth in the bass and a digital dexterity that made her performance … seem effortless.” “[O]ne senses the pianist’s awareness of the music’s many dimensions.” Her playing has been further described as “with great finesse”, “extraordinary and moving”, and having “fully conveyed the fierce and the elemental quality of her musical genius.” Additionally, her “virtuosity could not be hidden.” “She gets to the heart of the work at hand and presents it in a straightforward manner and with amazing power.” She “is a pianist with a touch at once delicate, deft and sure…with astonishing sensitivity and musical sensibility.”

Originally from Sacramento, California, Katherine received her early musical inspiration from her father and her training from Frank Wasko at California State University, Sacramento. After starting college at the age of fifteen, she furthered her studies at Indiana University, Bloomington with Karen Shaw, Dimitri Paperno, and James Tocco.  Soon thereafter, she earned a Master’s degree in piano performance at the Juilliard School, where she studied with John Browning and György Sándor.  As a Rotary Academic Ambassadorial Scholar, she achieved a master’s degree in musicology from the University of Glasgow. Recently, from the University of Houston, Katherine received her doctorate in piano performance under Abbey Simon, one of the last great pianists from the Golden Era.

Raised in a Filipino-Russian household, Katherine’s parents exposed her to a plethora of cultures and music. Not only did her parents always play a huge variety of music at home, which ranged from global folk music to opera, but also they took her to hear the Russian Orthodox choirs, Jewish cantors, and Catholic chants. This combination provided a musical foundation that still influences her concept of sound. As a greatly insightful teacher, Frank Wasko utilized this background toward expanding Katherine’s dynamic palette and creating her incomparable singing tone on the piano. As a teacher today, Katherine works with a student’s background to help discover his or her own individual artistry.

After winning the Pan Pacific International Competition, providing the great opportunity to perform in the Sydney Opera House, Katherine continues performing and recording. Her eclectic discography includes work as both a pianist and a choral conductor. Moreover, she furthers her role as a pedagogue and adjudicator by encouraging younger generations toward the fulfillment of their goals through masterclasses and seminars.  Among her many honours, she is most proud of winning the Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher of the Year award at New York University.