Russian violinist Ilya Kaler has been compared to masters such as Itzhak Perlman and Jascha Heifetz. He has the distinction of being the only violinist to win gold medals in three of the most prestigious international competitions: the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1986), the Sibelius Competition in Helsinki (1985), and the Paganini Competition in Genoa (1981). He has had a distinguished career as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist, and educator.
Kaler was born into a musical family in Moscow in 1963, and attended the Central Music School for Especially Gifted Children. He received his master's degree and his doctorate from the Moscow State Conservatory, where his teachers included Leonid Kogan and Viktor Tretyakov. He has established a significant international career, performing with some of the world's great orchestras, including the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Moscow Philharmonic, the Leningrad Philharmonic, the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Berlin Radio Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, and the Baltimore Symphony. His experience in chamber music includes participation in the Newport and Chautauqua Music Festivals, and other musicians with whom he has collaborated include Janos Starker, Steven Doane, Emanuel Ax, Yuri Bashmet, and Myron Bloom.
Kaler has taught at the Eastman Conservatory of Music, Indiana University School of Music (where he was Distinguished Professor of Music), and DePaul University. He has served as concertmaster of the Rochester Philharmonic and as guest concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Aspen Festival Orchestra. His recordings include a broad range of concertos, solo works, and chamber music by composers as diverse as Paganini, Bach, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorák, Glazunov, Szymanowski, Shostakovich, and Messiaen.