The Kennedy Center

Jeffrey Kahane


Renowned as a pianist and conductor, Jeffrey Kahane is recognized by audiences around the world for his mastery of diverse repertoire from Bach to Beethoven, from Gershwin to Golijov. He has established a reputation not only as music director of two unique ensembles, but also as a truly versatile artist equally sought after as soloist, conductor, and chamber musician.

A native of Los Angeles, Jeffrey Kahane began classical piano studies at the age of five with Howard Weisel. At age 14, he was accepted as a scholarship pupil by the great Polish-born pianist Jakob Gimpel, whom he credits as one of the most profound influences on his vision of music as a vehicle for dramatic narrative, poetic expression and ethical purpose.

Kahane picked up the guitar around the age of 10 and learned to play folk and rock music. He spent a good part of the next years dividing his time among practicing the piano and the guitar and dreaming about ways of bringing together different kinds of music and diverse audiences.

Kahane left high school after his sophomore year to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. In San Francisco, he played keyboard instruments in the San Francisco Symphony, explored jazz, and played in the pit for a touring Broadway musical. His career took a major turn in 1981 when he became a finalist in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Two years later in 1983, Kahane won the Grand Prize in the Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Israel.

In 2008–09, Kahane enters his twelfth season as Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and his fourth season as Music Director of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Under his leadership, both ensembles received 2007 ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming.

Highlights of Kahane's 2008–09 season with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, include celebrating the ensemble's 40th anniversary by performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the orchestra's first music director, Sir Neville Marriner, and leading the West Coast Premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's "Azul" with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Pinnacles of the season with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra include conducting Verdi's Requiem and launching a multi-year Mahler cycle with performances of Symphonies No. 1, "Titan," and No. 2, "Resurrection."Kahane also collaborates with guest artists Dawn Upshaw and Joshua Bell, composer Kevin Puts, and rising stars Jonathan Biss and Alisa Weilerstein.

In 2008–09, Kahane makes guest appearances playing with and conducting the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; collaborating with the Emerson String Quartet as part of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Dvorák Festival; and performing solo recitals at the University of Oregon, at the Aspen Festival, and on New York City Lincoln Center's Great Performers series. Kahane also performs on Bohemian Maestro-Django Reinhardt and the Impressionists, a new jazz recording from the Hot Club of San Francisco (, to be released in the fall.

Jeffrey Kahane's belief in the educational and inspirational power of music led him to found the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's Family Concerts series. His interest in musical enrichment is also evidenced by his personal commitment to LACO's Meet the Music program, which serves approximately 2,700 Los Angeles elementary students annually. For educational projects undertaken with the Santa Rosa Symphony, where he is the new Music Director Laureate, Kahane received one of the first MetLife Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement from the League of American Orchestras. In May 2005, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by Sonoma State University for his services to the Arts and Education.

Kahane and his wife, Martha, a clinical psychologist in private practice and an avid choral singer, currently divide their time at home between Denver, Colorado, and Santa Rosa, California. They have two children, Gabriel, age 27, who is a composer, pianist and singer/songwriter living in Brooklyn, and Annie, 20, currently a junior at Northwestern University. On the rare occasions when he is not thinking about music, Kahane enjoys cooking for his family and studying ancient and modern languages.
Jeffrey Kahane