The pianist Vestard Shimkus was born in Latvia in 1984 and began to win international recognition after his début with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the French Orchestre National, Czech Philharmonic, Kremerata Baltica, Borodin Quartet, and appearances in major concert halls throughout Europe and in the United States. Awards include first prize in the Barcelona Concurso Internacional de Música Maria Canals in 2009 and the Fifth Bad Kissingen International Piano Competition Klavier Olympiade in Germany in 2007. Vestard Shimkus began his study of the piano at the age of five in Riga, continuing at the Madrid Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía, the University of South California, and the Munich Richard Strauss Conservatory. He has appeared as a soloist in collaboration with distinguished conductors and orchestras and has been awarded the White Star Order of Estonia, and, in 2002 and 2009, the Grand Music Award of Latvia. His compositions have been published by Schott. He also plays jazz and has given recitals of his improvisations.