Laura Kargul has been concertizing as a solo pianist since the age of thirteen, when she made her concerto debut with orchestra in Detroit. She first came to international attention in 1985 when her European debut in the Netherlands was hailed by the Rotterdams Nieuwsblad as “one of the most remarkable debut recitals recently given in our country.” The following year Ms. Kargul played at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and earned immediate recognition as “A world class pianist: This is playing that belongs on our great concert stages…. almost feverishly inspired, so controlled and so thrilling.” (Haagsche Courant, The Hague) Subsequent tours have included solo performances in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Serbia and Switzerland, as well as in the West Indies. As a guest of international music festivals, Ms. Kargul has appeared at the Schleswig-Holstein, Nordhessen, and Eisenacher Summer Music Festivals in Germany and the Lesvos Arts Festival in Greece. She has recorded for radio in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Jamaica, as well as for PBS radio and national television in the United States. Grammy award winner Bob Ludwig of Gateway Mastering produced her solo CD of virtuoso transcriptions, Liszt and Ravel: Transcriptions for Piano.
A noted Liszt interpreter, Laura Kargul is one of few pianists ever invited to give a full recital on Liszt’s own Bechstein piano at the Liszt-Haus in Weimar, Germany. Her performances of Liszt consistently draw high praise: “Liszt wanted everything from the piano – wildness and fervor, exuberance and humility. Laura Kargul delivers all of it. She is completely absorbed by the music – elegantly floating through the most treacherous passages. It’s like childsplay to her… equipped with sparkling brilliance, clean double octaves, and perfectly executed leaps.” (Hessische Allgemeine, Kassel, Germany) At the same time, she is considered to be extremely versatile and critics find her playing of many other composers to be equally compelling: “How convincingly poetic, deeply lyrical and profound, will her playing of Schubert be judged.” (Wiesbadener Kurier, Wiesbaden, Germany). Another often mentioned attribute is her focused, understated virtuosity: “Unassuming, without exaggerated gestures, Laura Kargul enters the stage and astounds her audience… with great wealth of expression…. visible and audible perfection in technique.” (Thüringische Landeszeitung, Eisenach, Germany)
Ms. Kargul has collaborated with ensembles such as the Lark Quartet, the Portland String Quartet, the Da Ponte String Quartet and the Michigan Chamber Strings, in venues such as the Ordway Music Theater in St. Paul, the Aspen Music Festival, Music Mountain, the Evian Music Festival in France and the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca in Italy. She began her duo collaboration with violinist Ronald Lantz in 2010.
Ms. Kargul has served as the Director of Keyboard Studies at the University of Southern Maine since 1989. USM has recognized her contributions with its Faculty Senate Award for outstanding teaching. Her students have won numerous competitions, as well as scholarship offers to graduate programs at some of the country’s most selective music institutions, such as the Indiana University School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Michigan, Peabody Conservatory, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the University of Maryland. As a specialist in healthy solutions to the physical challenges of piano playing, she has lectured and presented master classes at the national and international conferences of the European Piano Teachers Association, the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Association and the National Music Teachers Association in the US. She is also a frequent guest on the pre-concert lecture series of Portland Ovations.
Laura Kargul holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Michigan, where she studied with pianists Leon Fleisher and Theodore Lettvin, and also served as an assistant to conductor Gustav Meier. She coached chamber music with pianist Eugene Bossart, violinist Paul Makanowitzky, ‘cellist Samuel Mayes and clarinetist David Shifrin, and studied with Nelita True at the National Music Camp at Interlochen. While in residence at the Aspen Music Festival with the Lark Quartet she worked with Joseph Kalichstein and John Perry. As a student she was also coached in master classes by pianists Gary Graffman, Murray Perahia and André Watts.