Katie Mahan

Pianist

Biography

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 high pillars of the 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, 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 a recital tour of Germany, debuts with the New Mexico Philharmonic and Allentown Symphony, and recitals and concerto appearances throughout the USA, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

 

Katie has recorded six 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 Grammphon. The recording is part of a set of complete works in honor of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth.  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 an innovative video project on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue which will accompany a new all-Gershwin CD planned for 2018.

 

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.

Concerto Repertoire & Recital Programs

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PBS Television Documentary

Critical Acclaim

"Katie Mahan gave a dramatic and emotional performance in the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto. Beginning with an unusual horn solo played by David Wallace, Mahan, with the flourishes of a diva, began her cadenza followed by a concoction of stormy melodies. In quieter sections of the Concerto she displayed an interpretive sensitivity. Many young performers today provide a passionate display contemporary audiences expect as they arrive from the rock world. Mahan does not use her star dramatic turn to cover inadequacies, but rather to highlight her singular skills."

Berkshire Fine Arts (NYC)


"Up and coming Denver pianist Katie Mahan ascended I-25 to tackle Chopin's 1st Piano Concerto. There was hardly a note missed in all three movements. The slow movement was the highlight of the performance... Mahan exulted in capturing every detail and more than a little nuance. She and the orchestra were one voice throughout."

Colorado Springs Gazette


"Katie Mahan is a musician whose performances are both elegant and thoughtful, stylish and deep. Even in repertoire that tempts some pianists to play with excess or poor taste, she shows thoughtful, refined playing that can still bring the audience to its feet. Her performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra showed just the right combination of faithfulness to the score and stylistic license. Her playing made this familiar work seem fresh: the music soared, sung, swooned, and swung. Her stage presence showed flair, and her beauty charmed many; yet, this young woman proved that she has gravitas and must be seen as a serious pianist."

Maestro William Intriligator, Cheyenne Symphony


"Katie Mahan's performance [of Beethoven's Concerto No. 4] is convincing and impressive through her high technical ability, secure performing, tasteful use of emotions and delicate sound quality on the piano. She presents herself as an intelligent and very serious interpreter and has a good sense for stylistic skills adjusting her performance to the special character of the composers. Katie Mahan is a young artist whose appearance always will promise especially good reception both by music lovers and music experts."

Maestro Robert Lehrbaumer, Wiener Residenz Orchester


"Katie Mahan is a daring and innovative performer; her rendition of Chopin's Piano Sonata Op. 35 and of Wagner/Liszt's Liebestod was the musical equivalent of blinding light illuminating vast, scary spaces that are not for the faint of heart to venture into. Always in command of the relationship between sound and space, and never afraid to explore new roads in what many consider old territory, this young artist proves just how strong the impact of piano music can be; she can tear from the piano an anguished and truly grand singing sound, as well as abandon herself to joyful lightness and speed without fear. She was a most welcome guest of our Cultural Events series and thoroughly inspired our students."

Fabio Parrini, Professor of Music, Cline School of Music, North Greenville University


"A young pianist of unusual beauty whose playing encompasses not only the full range of virtuosity through enthusiasm and inner volcanic power , but also the deeper emotional side of music."

Macedonian pianist Simon Trpceski


"A pianist in the style of Clara Schumann."

Maestra Marin Alsop


"One of the most outstanding emerging young talents coming up today."

Maestro Ken Hsieh