This legally blind pianist ‘paints’ his music

by - 16:02

Get ready for a night of soothing piano tunes – critically acclaimed, best-selling new age pianist Kevin Kern is set to make his debut performance in Malaysia in September.

Presented by Mode Entertainment & Inter Nation Group, the one-night Best Of Kevin Kern LIVE: 20th Anniversary Concert will take place at the Bentley Music Auditorium in Petaling Jaya on Sept 11.

Even if you are not quite familiar with his name, you would have heard Kern’s Le Jardin and Return To Love, which were prominently featured in the 2000 South Korean romantic television drama, Autumn In My Heart. The drama has been seen by more than 100 million people in over 40 countries, and has been instrumental in growing Kevin Kern’s global audience.

The legally blind pianist first started tinkling on the ivories at 18 months old, and has enjoyed an immensely successful career, with 10 studio albums under his belt.

Since the release of his phenomenally successful debut CD, In The Enchanted Garden in 1996, Kern has developed his own musical voice. His recordings have ranged from the classically flavoured cinematic melodies of Summer Daydreams to the organic acoustic textures of The Winding Path.

Kern, 57, doesn’t let his disability get in the way of his music, referring to his solo pieces as “sound paintings”. Spontaneously improvised in a darkened recording studio, he uses the piano to paint musical pictures of scenes.

“While I am not totally blind, my visual world is incomplete. The images I see are out of focus. Think of a photograph with gauze over the lens. The result is a blurry picture, which lacks details. I can see colours, shapes and motion, but I have no depth perception.

Kern is legally blind, but that has not stopped him from forging a hugely successful career. — KEVIN KERN

Kern is legally blind, but that has not stopped him from forging a hugely successful career.

“I don’t always see specific images when I compose. Not all my pieces are inspired by specific moods or events, and many of my ideas simply spring from a desire to search and refine the strongest melodies I can.

“It’s not uncommon to find me sitting in the dark at the piano late at night. Fortunately, none of the neighbours, nor my wife, have complained!” he shares in an e-mail interview.

He cites the late jazz pianist George Shearing as playing a vital part in his musical and personal development.

Kern says, “He was a remarkable musician whose harmonic language, as well as his beautiful tone on the piano, inspired me with every note he played. More so, he was a role model who showed that it was possible for a blind person, given the right opportunities and motivation, to not only survive, but succeed in the wider world.”

Kern’s music has not only inspired piano enthusiasts and students, but has a strong appeal to lovers of relaxing, often introspective music. His tunes have touched listeners from all walks of life, and have been part of weddings as well as moments of physical and emotional healing.

“When I began my recording career, I never imagined what an impact my music would have on so many people’s lives,” says the American. “If my music is able to provide great joy or comfort to someone, then I feel as if I have done something right.”

A true artist, Kern refuses to select his favourite composition, comparing them to children.

“I love them all equally and make every effort to create each piece I write. There are some pieces such as Twilight’s Embrace, which I love to play because of the interplay between the cello and violin soloists.

“Still, other compositions, like Sweet Dreams, Helena, which I wrote as a lullaby for the young daughter of a family friend, take on a different texture when I perform them live, depending on how the piano inspires me.”

However, Kern adds that his latest album, When I Remember, to be released next month, features him at his best.

“The music will be different because it is directly inspired by the musical influences that shaped me through the years. I thought long and hard about the classical music I learned in my early years, the jazz I played in my teens, and the beautiful popular songs I’ve come to love. Each song on the CD is inspired by some aspect of the best examples of all these musical genres,” he reveals.

The audience can expect Kern to take them on a voyage into his home during his show here.

“The concert is going to be an intimate experience as if we are having a conversation in my living room. I’ll be featuring a selection of my best known songs from my previous albums, particularly In The Enchanted Garden, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Gosh, can I possibly be that old!”

The Best Of Kevin Kern Live 20th Anniversary Concert will take place on Sept 11 at 7pm at Bentley Music Auditorium, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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