The renowned Russian-American pianist holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Miami and a Master of Music degree after graduating from the Voronezh State Academy of Arts. Dr. Kofman is currently an Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University.
At age 7 Irena Kofman won first prize in the Russian State Piano Competition with works by Bach, Mozart and others. Shortly thereafter, she took first place at the Russian National Piano Competition held in Belgorod, Russia. Her many other accolades awarded in the Soviet Union include first prize at the 1985 Concerto Competition in Moscow, special prize at the 1986 Rachmaninov Competition in Tambov, first prize at the 1988 International Chamber Music Competition in Riga, and Outstanding Teacher Award given in 1991 at the Special Preparatory School for Gifted Children. Before leaving the Soviet Union, Irena Kofman enjoyed a growing reputation by touring extensively as a soloist and chamber artist.
After settling in the United States, Dr. Kofman pursued her doctorate at the University of Miami while holding teaching positions both there and at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Rosalina Sackstein, the distinguished Cuban pianist and former student of Claudio Arrau, was her mentor at the University of Miami, where Irena Kofman wrote an in-depth dissertation on the Russian school of piano-playing. As an outstanding doctoral student at the University of Miami, Irena Kofman was chosen, after a preliminary piano solo competition, to perform in different venues at Salzburg during its prestigious Summer Festival. Her personal career thus resumed and she was heard in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Italy, and Poland.
Shortly thereafter she helped to found the Arcangelo Piano Quartet, a distinguished American chamber ensemble. With them she toured Guatemala, China and the United States--all to rave reviews. In the words of critic Lawrence Budmen, “Kofman’s finely manicured articulation of the piano line was wonderfully limpid and clear....The entire performance had a unique sense of deeply felt, highly personal music making.” For the Arcangelo Quartet’s performance of Schumann’s piano quartet, critic Jeffrey Rossman wrote, “As a pianist-composer, Schumann wrote an especially virtuosic part for the keyboard. Kofman was brilliant in her phrasing and control.”
In addition to her highly renowned chamber group, Irena Kofman formed a duo with the eminent Belgian pianist André De Groote. Their concerts, presented in Europe and the United States, were met with critical acclaim and with the enthusiasm and genuine emotional involvement of their audiences. The year 2006 saw this duo perform Beethoven's complete works for piano duet, among many other programs. Their album “Russian Treasures,” under Hoot/Wisdom Recordings, was released in 2007 to high critical praise. James Harrington, reviewing for American Record Guide, remarked, “Kofman and De Groote are fully up to the technical and interpretive demands, and the recorded sound ranks with the best of the big name labels.” The second collaboration of the Kofman-De Groote duo is a profound interpretation of the four most significant works of Schubert's piano duet literature; released in December 2009, it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the European recording label “Talent.” This warmly enthusiastic review was published in the American Record Guide: “Excellent program of Schubert piano duets. Kofman and De Groote are mature, world-class performers... This piano duo team doesn’t hesitate to use a modern piano approach to the big climaxes, and the results are illuminating. The Fantasy in F minor is one of the greatest duet works ever written and given a suitably grand performance here.” A 2014 collaboration between Andre De Groote and Irena Kofman brought the previously unknown composer Theodore Gouvy to the spotlight. Their recording received tremendous applause, bringing high words of praise not only to De Groote and Kofman, but also to the composer Gouvy. The MusicWeb International critic Philip R. Buttall notes about Gouvy: “The question, then, is whether this musical 'discovery' is really something worth 'discovering'. From the musical standpoint the answer must be a resounding yes, as Gouvy really does speak with an individual voice.” Buttall proceeds, “The performance, too, is absolutely first-rate. The De Groote/Kofman team showing not only great empathy for the style, and clearly sounding as if they enjoyed every single note, but in pure terms of balance and ensemble, their playing can simply not be faulted.” Since the release of the recording, the Gouvy estate has invited De Groote and Kofman to perform at the Gouvy museum in France.
Dr. Kofman continues to collaborate with other outstanding musicians, such as Japanese violinist Junko Ohtsu. A recent concert, hosted by the Japanese Consulate, was performed in dedication to the victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
As a solo artist, Dr. Kofman performs to wide audiences locally and abroad. Notably, she was invited to play before His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet at his Compassion as a Pillar of World Peace presentation in 2010. Further contributing to the community, Dr. Kofman joined the Bach in the Subways international movement to promote Bach’s music and organized the first such concert in Florida. In 2015, Dr. Kofman gave a series of concerts in Curacao to high critical acclaim; proceeds went to purchasing musical instruments for local schools. Her solo recordings are available on the Loconto Artists label.
As a well-rounded musician, Dr. Kofman is an in-demand judge at local, national, and international competitions. She judged at the Florida Federation of Music Clubs Competition in Royal Poinciana, Florida as well as at the Marties Awards of the Arts in Martin County, Florida. Traveling internationally, Dr. Kofman judged at the International Concerto Competition held in Russia, where she also presented master classes and served as an ambassador of FAU, recruiting graduate students.
As a pedagogue, Dr. Kofman is superb as demonstrated by awards and student outcomes. She received a Diploma of Recognition from the American Protégé International Competition of Romantic Music 2011 and the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition 2012 for “extraordinary dedication and achievement in the field of teaching music and presenting students to perform at Carnegie Hall.” In 2015 she again received recognition from Carnegie Hall in the American Protégé International Piano and Strings Competition. Chosen among the country’s best teachers, Dr. Kofman demonstrated master classes and spoke at Florida State University’s Piano Symposium, thereafter awarded their Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Kofman also presented master classes in Salzburg at the prestigious Salzburg Summer Program in 2014. At FAU, two of her former students won back-to-back first prizes at the Concerto and Aria Competition. Locally, Dr. Kofman serves as Artist in Residence at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, giving master classes and individual instruction to high school students. Many of Dr. Kofman’s former piano students are distinguished performers and educators throughout the Americas, Former Soviet Union, and Europe.