Facebook Twitter

Award-winning pianist to perform at Tabernacle

SHARE Award-winning pianist to perform at Tabernacle

At age 7, Kevin Kenner was already performing Chopin Prelude No. 20 on the piano in sacrament meeting. Now a concert pianist of international stature, he will be the featured artist at a concert of the Orchestra at Temple Square in the Salt Lake Tabernacle Sept. 22.

Admission for the 7:30 p.m. concert is free, but tickets are required and are available at the Conference Center Ticket Office. Seating is limited to those 8 years of age and older.

Brother Kenner, who grew up in San Diego, Calif., and now lives in London, England, recalls playing prelude music for early morning priesthood meetings. His youthful repertoire included excerpts from the Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, which he will perform at the Tabernacle concert. As a youth, he also sang solos and gave talks, "all of which no doubt promoted my favorable attitude toward audiences and stages," he said.

"I will never forget traveling around the San Diego Mission with Elder Hartman Rector Jr. [now an emeritus General Authority] performing at the various conferences he had organized, including one meeting in which President Spencer W. Kimball attended," Brother Kenner said. "Elder Rector made a prediction at that time, nearly 25 years ago, that the day would come when I would play in the great halls of Europe and be heard by millions."

The fulfillment of that prediction began when he was 17 and participated in the International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland, winning 10th prize. Ten years later, in 1990, he returned to the competition and won the top prize, the People's Prize and the Polonaise Prize. That year, he also won the bronze medal at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, together with a special prize for his interpretation of Russian Music.

Other accolades have come since then, and he has performed as a soloist with world-class orchestras in the United States and abroad.

Gifted as he is, Brother Kenner understands the importance of seeking first the k/ingdom of God.

"From 1994-95, I interrupted my studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and spent a semester at BYU followed by a mission in Vienna, Austria," he said. "I was extremely fortunate to have as my mission president Elder Spencer Condie, who, having heard of my musical ability from my BYU piano teacher, Reid Nibley, quickly put my talents to use and sent me on a concert tour throughout the country."

When he returned to Peabody, one of his fellow students asked him where he had been and with whom he had been studying. She was astounded at his progress.

"From this experience and others, I have come to believe that music is, above all, a spiritual art, and although technical work facilitates many of the [solutions to] problems, the greatness of a performance lies in its spiritual properties," he remarked. "Music has the ability to reveal hidden meanings, things which cannot be expressed adequately in words. Music is, to me, far more than just a means of expressing devotion to God; it is an expression of divinity itself."

Brother Kenner is in his second year as a professor at the Royal College of Music in London. He is married to the former Sonia Dembinslea, and they are the parents of three daughters.