Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival


Twenty-five years ago, the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation launched an initiative to honor the memory of its namesake by creating an international artist award and piano festival. In keeping with the manner in which Mr. Gilmore supported pianists during his lifetime, the award was designed to be non-competitive. Nominations and evaluations would be conducted without the knowledge of the nominees and the award would be completely unexpected by its recipient. In order to accomplish these objectives a new non-profit organization was formed. Today both this organization and its primary festival are known as “The Gilmore.”

The resulting Gilmore Artist and Young Artist Awards have furthered the careers of many deserving pianists and today are recognized as two of the most prestigious awards in the music world. A biennial international piano festival was created in 1991 to showcase Gilmore Artists and other world-class performers in and around Kalamazoo. By 2014, more than 31,000 seats were filled by people who enjoyed exceptional and memorable performances at the 17-day International Keyboard Festival.

In addition to the Artist Awards and the Festival, The Gilmore presents a Rising Stars concert series, and during non-Festival years, a Piano Masters concert series. Further, the Piano Labs education program offers keyboard instruction for students who might otherwise lack the opportunity. The labs are held at area elementary schools, the Kalamazoo Juvenile Home, and through KRESA’s Young Adult Program, thus ensuring their accessibility to the students. Moreover, piano camps, master classes, pre-concert talks, free family concerts, and classes for all ages develop keyboard skills and foster a lifelong appreciation for music.