Hear rising star Kenny Broberg perform at the Minnesota Beethoven Festival

Pianist Kenny BrobergJeremy Enlow/The Cliburn

July 16, 2018

What does Minnesota-born concert pianist Kenny Broberg want to be when he grows up?

"Oh, I don't know," he says. "It's better not to think about it. It's better just to think about becoming a better musician and letting the stars align where they do. And where they don't, that's OK, too."

Well, it would seem the stars are aligning nicely for this 24-year-old musician.

He has nabbed prizes and medals in Dallas, Seattle and Sydney, Australia, where his performance was pressed immediately afterward onto a CD. His big prize was the silver at the most recent Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He was called up at the last moment to fill in for an ailing Andre Watts with the Minnesota Orchestra. Terry Blain, writing for the Star Tribune, gushed over that debut and "his bright, pearly tone quality" and his "pleasing, rustic swagger" that was "refreshingly free of pomposity."

And now he takes the stage at the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, a place where he was a habitual audience member.

Had he ever imagined he'd be on stage?

"I never really thought of it, but it's certainly going to be a little surreal to actually do that," he says with a laugh.

"I never really had too many expectations growing up," he adds. "I just wanted to do music, and however good or successful I was going to be that was OK."

Modest and super-focused, Broberg will take the stage soon in a solo recital of pieces you will likely recognize — Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 24 and the Bach Toccata in C minor — and some less familiar — a work by pianist and Beethoven champion Nikolai Medtner and a neo-Romantic sonata by Samuel Barber.

As far as prerecital routines, Broberg says he doesn't really have any.

"I used to be a little more careful about what I used to do before I play," he says. "But, out of necessity, now that I perform a lot more, it's difficult to do the same thing every time. … So I'm actually a little less superstitious maybe than I used to be before I play."

Nothing superstitious, but musically, it's magic.

Listen to Broberg's performance live at the Minnesota Beethoven Festival at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, on Classical MPR.