In September 2009 Sofya Gulyak was awarded the 1st prize and the Princess Mary Gold Medal at the Sixteenth Leeds International Piano Competition – the first woman in the history of the competition to achieve this distinction. Since then she has appeared all over the world to great acclaim.
Her recital programmes are frequently reviewed in superlatives, and her concerto appearances with major orchestras are noted in glowing terms by the world’s music press. Sofya has been praised for her “tremendous precision and colouration…exquisite soft playing …with delicacy” and described as a “Rach star”(Washington Post).
Sofya Gulyak’s resume includes prizes from many prestigious piano competitions: she is a 1st prize winner of William Kapell International Piano Competition in the USA, Maj Lind Helsinki International Piano Competition, Tivoli Piano Competition in Copenhagen, Isang Yun International Piano Competition in South Korea, San Marino Piano Competition, winner of Busoni Competition in Italy and prize winner of Marguerite Long Piano Competition in Paris.
Recitals and concert appearances have been numerous, with Sofya Gulyak having performed all over the globe in such venues as La Scala Theatre and Sala Verdi in Milan, Herculessaal in Munich, Salle Cortot, Salle Gaveau and Salle Pleyel in Paris, Tokyo Opera City Hall, Osaka Symphony Hall, Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Kennedy Center in Washington, Hungarian National Opera, Palais de la Musique in Strasbourg, Hong Kong City Hall, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Musashino Cultural Centre in Tokyo, Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, Teatro Municipal adn Cidade des Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Auditorium Manzoni in Bologna, Aberdeen Music Hall, Salle Molière in Lyon, Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, King Theatre in Rabat, Kursaal in Bern, Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen and many others.
Sofya Gulyak appeared as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony, Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic, Rio de Janeiro Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North, Budapest Philharmonic, Orchestra dell’ Arena di Verona, Orchestra Filarmonica di Bologna, NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic, Enescu Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony, Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Slovak Radio Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, Copenhagen Symphony, Ulster Symphony, Ochestra Sinfonica Siciliana, Orchestre National de France, Shanghai Philharmonic, Oulu Philharmonic, Leipzig Philharmonic, Pensacola Symphony, Tatarstan Symphony, Philippines Philharmonic, Morocco Philharmonic and others.
She collaborated with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sakari Oramo, Mark Elder, Donald Runnicle, Vasily Petrenko, Alexander Lazarev, Karl-Heinz Steffens, David Hill, Alan Buribayev, Eiving Gullberg Jensen, Theodor Guschlauer, Rory McDonald, Tamami Nishimoto, Danail Rachev, Fabio Mastrangelo, Michele Mariotti, Fuat Mansurov, Alexander Sladkovsky, Mario Kosik, Jesus Medina,Tomomi Nishimoto, Istvan Denes, Peter Rubardt, Anna-Maria Helsing, Dalia Stasevska and others. The festivals in which Sofya Gulyak participated include Klavier Ruhr Festival, Chopin Festival in Duzniki-Zdroj, Festival du Sceaux, International Keyboard Festival in New York, International Strasbourg Festival, Busoni Festival, Harrogate Festival, Krakòv Piano Festival, New Zealand Piano Festival, Ravello Festival, Festival Chopin in Paris, Shanghai International Piano Festival and many others.
Sofya Gulyak’s recording of Russian piano music (Medtner, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev) was released on Champs Hill Records in 2013 and received a 5 stars review in Diapason magazine (“What a pleasure to hear the piano blossoming and projecting in the most vivid of ways when played by Sofya Gulyak. The singing sound alongside dazzling and powerful execution distinguishes an outstanding natural pianist”) and praising reviews in Gramophone (“This is a stunning debut album…”) and Guardian magazines (“Sofya Gulyak is a fearless pianist, never afraid to scale the most technically demanding heights of the repertoire and equally proud to wear her heart on her sleeve”). Her CD with Brahms music was released on Piano Classics in the spring of 2015 and got glowing reviews from American Record Guide (“The Handel Variations is among the top contenders on record. From the very first notes she takes charge and envelops us in a thrilling sequence of variations that will send goose bumps to susceptible listeners. Not only does she perform with arresting contrast and lovely, soft floating tone. She keeps you on the edge of your seat, as the music presses ever forward. Sometimes I was reminded of the young Argerich..” and Fanfare magazine (” Her musicality is beautifully attuned to the spirit of Brahms…I must praise Kazan-born Russain pianist Sofya Gulyak, whose impressive reading places a stronger emphasis than Perahia’s in the continuity of the variations… She is a natural Brahmsian whatever his moods.”). Her last CD with the Chaconnes for Piano was released by Champs Hill Records in 2017.
Sofya Gulyak is a native of Kazan (Russia) where she studied in a Special Music College under Nailya Khakimova, and then in Kazan State Conservatoire under Professor Elfiya Burnasheva. After that she continued her studies at the Piano Academy “Incontri coi Maestri” (Imola, Italy) with Boris Petrushansky and at the Royal College of Music in London with Vanessa Latarche.
Sofya Gulyak attended as a jury member the International Piano Competitions in Italy, Serbia, France, Greece, USA, and was invited to teach master classes in China, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Hong Kong, Mexico, USA, and Germany. In past and recent years she has been on the faculty at the Royal College of Muisc in London, Kazan State Conservatory, Monteverdi Conservatory of Bolzano.
Her playing has been broadcast on radio and TV in Russia, Poland, France, Italy, Germany, USA, Finland, Denmark, Serbia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Kingdom (BBC 3 and BBC 4).