Widely acclaimed for the rare beauty of her tone and her enchanting presence on stage, Irina Kulikova has established herself as one of today’s leading guitarists. She received over 30 awards for her artistry, including 1st prizes at the most prestigious international competitions. She tours far afield, with appearances at leading festivals in Europe, North America and Asia and in concert halls such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, the Palau de la Musica in Valencia, the Musashino Hall in Tokyo and the Oriental Arts Center in Shanghai.
Irina Kulikova was born in Chelyabinsk, the capital and industrial mainport of South Ural. The daughter of a cellist and distinguished pedagogue, she started her musical career at an exceptionally young age. At five, she started playing piano and guitar. At eight she gave her first guitar performances. By the time she was twelve, Irina Kulikova was a child star playing all across Russia and at festivals in Europe.
She received a scholarship from ‘New Names’, the United Nations program for talents. And she was discovered by some of the world’s leading guitarists, including the Grammy Award winning David Russell and Sergio Assad. ‘If you close your eyes, it is like you hear an adult play’, Spanish master José María Gallardo del Rey marvelled. ‘A star is born’, Colin Cooper reviewed in Classical Guitar Magazine. At fourteen, Irina Kulikova appeared in Maurice Summerfield’s book ‘The Classical Guitar, its evolution, players and personalities since 1800’.
In 2007, Irina Kulikova graduated with distinction at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg; she was awarded 1st prize at the highly prestigious competitions of Michele Pittaluga in Italy and still in the same year, she was awarded the Dutch Youth, Culture and Podia prize in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
In the years that followed, Irina was invited to thirty countries for concerts. She made her first visits to China and Japan, where her concert was broadcasted on national television. In 2009 and 2011, she recorded new albums, both released by Naxos. ‘Some of the most sheerly beautiful playing I have ever heard, with gorgeous sounds and exquisitely balanced sonorities’, Soundboard Magazine (USA) reviewed.
Through the years, the beauty of Irina Kulikova’s playing became iconic for guitarists around the world. She developed into a much appreciated mentor for conservatorium students and fellow professionals and gained popularity with her master classes brimming with imagery and humour. She founded a guitar program for the Russian School of Music in Irvine (USA) and made California her second home. In the USA, she was invited to most major guitar series and societies such as Cleveland, Austin, Dallas, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Seattle and Miami.
2007, 1st Prize, Michele Pittaluga International Guitar Competition, Alessandria, Italy