Imagine a little girl, waving her matchstick arms, begging her parents to buy a piano: a big burden for a struggling young family. Imagine her finally succeeding and declaring right after the first piano lesson that she would definitely become a piano teacher! And then, when her wildest dreams came true and she became a celebrated piano professor - imagine her, instead of resting on her laurels, saying: “As music teachers, we can change the world” - and setting her sights on modernizing her classical profession. In 2015, her project on creating entrepreneurs through the study of music was recognized by the Wharton Business School / QC “Reimagine Education” International Awards as one of the Top 5 in the world in nurturing employability, ahead of hundreds of projects submitted by business and STEM professionals from around the globe. As a result, she’s now one of the judges in this worldwide contest that bills itself as “the Oscars of Higher Education”.
Hailed by the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (USA) as one of the leading piano pedagogues in the world, Dr. Irina Voro is the Professor of Creativity and Piano at the University of Kentucky. Yes, creativity too, because aside from top-notch skills in music performance in line with the grand Russian and French piano traditions of Dr. Voro’s own teachers, her students learn the habits of applied creativity and resourcefulness, boosting their chances for great careers. In 2015, Dr. Voro has established the Creativity Lab within the Piano Program and recently her students have launched the university-wide Creativity Club to help anyone achieve his or her dreams. Many of Dr. Voro students have won state and international competitions and effectively all of them get jobs or graduate school invitations upon graduation. They come out prepared to succeed in the workplace and life.
Dr. Voro is the recipient of twelve student-nominated teaching awards, including the UK Great Teacher Award, the national Teacher Recognition Award (from the Obama Administration), and the Kentucky Music Teacher of the Year, among others. She has been repeatedly invited to share her pedagogic and performing insights at the most prestigious conferences of the International College Music Society, the European Piano Teachers’ Association, the Music Teachers National Association (USA) and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (USA). Dr. Voro has served as president or jury member at several international and state piano competitions, and presented a number of highly acclaimed masterclasses in China, Europe and Brazil, including masterclasses at eight leading Italian State Conservatories (Naples, Verona, Parma, Padua and others). Her outside faculty engagements include visiting professorships at the University of Shanghai (China), University of Florida (USA), Faculdade de Musica do Espirito Santo (Brazil) and the Prague International Piano Masterclasses (the Czech Republic).
A passionate and virtuosic performer, creator of “L'Excital for Piano, Narrative and Imagination” (a recital where piano pieces are preceded by poetic narratives composed by the performer), Dr. Voro has given hundreds of concerts on four continents and has been a concerti soloist with philharmonic orchestras in Brazil, China, Canada, USA and her native Russia.
In 2011, the University of Kentucky faculty elected her to represent them on the University Board of Trustees (2011- 2014), where Dr. Voro was a tireless advocate for shared governance and administrative accountability.
From The Press
“She gives us the possibility to 'see' the music, to 'see' the sound… Students and teachers could not hold back their genuine exaltation, gratefully erupting in applause and shouts of 'bravo!'. For almost two hours Irina Voro held the hall in the palm of her hand, nourishing the souls of her listeners.”
- I. Nemykina for the Zvezda Prikubania, Russia
“A unique music personality… Everything – musicality, technique and a powerful drive – was there! The secret of Voro’s formula is that it practically hooks you into thinking along her lines… [Her] images are too salient, too memorable to be easily forgotten…”
- I. Morozova for the New York Concert Review
“In order to inspire the students, she [Voro] sang songs, danced and made herself understood with the help of various gestures. The effect was very obvious... When teaching a Chopin’s Waltz, she incredibly started to dance waltz with the student. Irina asked her to perceive the up and the down beats of the composition. In counseling on Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody", at one time she proudly stood at the front, showing a mighty domineering person, and at other time she trembled with fear to show the difference with the music, which made the audience burst into laughter. A piano lesson could be taught like that! Even an onlooker like me was attracted by that and I began to listen attentively and then started to take notes on my cell phone.
The students who were stiff and shy became more active after [Voro's] demonstrations. Their interests were totally aroused. The introverted girl turned to the audience with a smiling face and sparlking eyes while "breathing" [with relief from tension]. The kid who played Debussy with no passion got excited. The tune she played became smoother, and the “waves of the melody” in it emerged. Some whispers came from the audience: “This foreign teacher is quite different from our Chinese teachers. She is versatile and she uses so many tricks of the trade.” “Unlike our Chinese teachers she talks about music, about musicians, and about the contents of the works instead of just skills. It is obviously quite necessary.” “How devoted a teacher she is!” “In China teacher is the boss, students must listen to the teacher, but in Dr. Voro’ s class, student is like a master, while the teacher is a helper.” “Being her student is a stroke of luck, even just once.”
These are the most impressive piano lessons I have ever witnessed. I can’t help saying that Dr. Irina Voro is a magician and her lessons are really worth attending!”
- Piano teacher Xiaolin Dai, writing for Qin Tong Za Zhi music teacher newsletter in Ningbo, China
“Irina Voro is revolutionizing the way classical music is presented to the public.”
- Bob Withers for the Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, WV
“'Awesome' and 'amazing' were a few of the terms [that the audience] used to describe her highly expressive interpretation of the work of great composers. A fine poet…she can apply as much power or gentleness as needed to express feelings… The space between her notes is not empty.”
- Greta Fields for the Hazard Herald, Hazard, KY
“Irina Voro…has made it her mission to bring young people back to piano recitals. [This] pianist tries to rejuvenate recitals with artistic influences.”
- Rich Copley for the Herald-Leader, Lexington, KY
“The concert turned out to be a precious gift from the professor from the University of Kentucky… The very first notes made us aware that at the piano is an artist of the highest caliber. Her poignant melodic musings transformed themselves into startling chords, and then the melodic theme dissolved us all within itself… The listeners could only wonder how such a svelte person could emit in her playing so much energy, power and, if you will, sheer might …”
- Nina Kazarian for the Kavkazskaya Zdravnitsa, Russia