Helge Kjekshus (born August 18 1968) is already in the primary league of leading young Norwegian soloists. He studied with professor Boris Berman at Yale University 1995-97, where he received his Master of Music Diploma. Prior to this, he studied with professor Jiri Hlinka at the Bergen Music Conservatory 1990-95. In 1990 he graduated from the Norwegian State Academy of Music, B.A, with the best degree possible, and he has been tutored by acclaimed pianists such as Jens Harald Bratlie and Robert Riefling. He began playing the piano at the age of 11 with Kari Østereng as his teacher.
In a review from the 1993 Bergen International Festival, Octavio Roca of the Washington Post reported Helge Kjekshus to be "a pianist who must be counted as one of the festivals most exiting discoveries". On numerous occasions Mr. Kjekshus has received standing ovations for his interpretation of Griegs Piano Concerto,- with leading Scandinavian orchestras, in the US, Latvia and with the Bernische Musikgesellschaft in Switzerland. In 1995 Kjekshus toured with The Norwegian Youth Symphony Orchestra and Paavo Berglund. Mr. Kjekshus has collaborated with reputed maestros like Paavo Berglund, Dmitri Kitayenko, Alexander Dmitriev, Janos Fürst, Andras Ligeti, Ole Kristian Ruud, Ari Rasilainen, Owain Arwel Hughes and Stewart Robertson amongst others.
Mr. Kjekshus has also earned recognition as a fine chamber musician and recitalist: He performed Tsjaikovskys Piano Trio with Ana Chumachenko and Truls Mørk at the 1993 Risør Chamber Music Festival. On the recommendation of Gidon Kremer he was invited to the famous Bad Kissinger Festival 1994 and received excellent reviews. His solo recitals in Oslo 1993 and at the Bergen International Festival 1994 and 98, as well as recent recitals in Carnegie Hall/Weill Recital Hall, Otto Braun Saal, Berlin, Wallace Collection and at the Bath Festival, UK, with violinist Henning Kraggrud have been met with superb reviews and public acclaim. His recent CD recording for NAXOS with Henning Kraggerud (Grieg: Sonatas for violin and piano) has received top scores by Gramophone and Classic CD. Helge Kjekshus and Henning Kraggerud are recipients of the prestigious Grieg Prize 1998. Mr Kjekshus has also been the recipient of several other prestigious prizes, amosgst which are: The Levin Award 1990---honorary award, The Youth Symphony Orchestras Piano Competition 1989--first prize, The Robert Riefling Piano Competition 1986---first prize, The Sparre Olsen Competition 1983---first prize, The Youth Piano Competition 1982---first prize.
Mr. Kjekshus has, in addition, performed in acclaimed festivals such as Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Klavier Sommer Kleve, (Germany), Piano Stars Festival, (Latvia), Chopin Festival, (Warsaw, Poland) and Festival Miami, (US).
"Phrases are constantly hoisted aloft with skin tingling timing,
and the recording is unimpeachable" Classic CD Nov. '97
".....in Rachmaninoffs second concerto Kjekshus displayed a brilliant technique and a secure control. He is a great musical talent."
(Stavanger Aftenblad 13. Nov. 1998, Stavanger Symfoniorkester/ Alexander Dmitriev)
"............a pair of exceptional Norwegian Artists, violinist Kraggerud and pianist Kjekshus. The two performers were thoroughly immersed in the music, strong in character, virile, fresh and vibrant. We could have listened to musicianship of this order all day."
(The Daily Telegraph 22. May 1997, Bath Festival)
"Kjekshus displayed an impressive tone palette, supremely adapted to the musical context. His playing was always alive, emotional, narrative and lyrical."
(Bergens Tidende 7. March 1997, Bergen Philharmonic/ Janos Fürst, Beethoven Pianoconcerto No. 3)
"The Grieg concerto received an exquisite and lyrical performance. Kjekshus had no technical problems, and performs with a strong will and a wide range of color."
(Aalborg Stiftstidende 4. October 1996, Aalborg Symfoniorkester/ Arwell Hughes)
"Kjekshus found the nerve in Sommerfeldts music. He presented a steady rhythmic drive, unerring technique and a fascinating temperament"
(Bergens Tidende 4. March 1995, Bergen Philharmonic/ Dmitri Kitayenko, Sommerfeldt Pianoconcerto)
".....Helge Kjekshus magnificient interpretation of Griegs g-minor Ballade Op. 24, was given a rare musical climb which I have not experienced the likeness of for a long time."
(Bergens Tidende 29. May 1995)
"The young and highly talented pianist Helge Kjekshus was impressive, without reservation because of his disciplined and sovereign way of performing"
(Der Bund, Bern, Switzerland, 28. April 1994, Bernische Musikgesellscaft/ Dmitri Kitayenko, Grieg Pianoconcerto)
"In this concert Helge Kjekshus confirmed his uncontested position in our first line of pianists. We are faced with a highly accomplished and important musician."
(Arbeiderbladet, Oslo 1. December 1993)
"... Helge Kjekshus, a 24 year old Norwegian pianist who must be counted as one of the festivals most exiting discoveries. With his unassuming manner and surprising power, this young man displayed maturity and authority that escape many older pianists. He also had an innate, exquisite sense of rhythm and a gift for bringing out the long line in a score".
(Washington Times June 1993, in a review from the Bergen International Festival)
"The Tsjaikovsky Pianotrio with Ana Chumachenko (violin), Truls Mørk (cello) and Helge Kjekshus
(piano) released the real great ovations."
(Risør Chamber Music Festival 1993)
"......his tone projected with clarity and warmth, and with tremendous energy. In his passionate performance of Griegs Pianoconcerto, Kjekshus brought strong ideas to this war-horse, and took command of the project."
(Albuquerque Journal, 23. March 1993, Santa Fe Symphony/ Stewart Robertson)