Ruta Smedina-Starke was born in Latvia and began playing the piano at the age of five and later studied the piano with Larisa Olshtinskaja at Yelgava City Music College. In 1988, she graduated from the University of Latvia in Riga with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She then moved to Richmond, VA, where she studied with Dr. Sonia Vlahcevic and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master of Music in Piano Performance. She has studied privately with Dr. Dmitri Shteinberg.
She is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Music Honor Society, and is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music. She is also a member of RMTA (Richmond Music Teachers Association) and VMTA (Virginia Music Teachers Association). From 2006-2009, Smedina-Starke served as a Chairman of RMTA Bach Competition. She has been selected to participate in master classes with international pianists Jon Nakamatsu and Stephen Hough. During the 2006 Piano Texas International Academy and Festival, she participated in the master class with international pianists Harold Martina and Seymour Bernstein.
Smedina-Starke is the recipient of the Jordan Kitt’s Music 2006 Educator Grant. She has served as an adjudicator to local and state competitions, and that includes Richmond Symphonic League Concerto Competition, CMTA (Charlottesville Music Teachers Association) Concerto Competition, Virginia James Bland Music Scholarship Competition, MTNA State Competition held at the Shenandoah Conservatory during the VMTA State Conference of 2012, and in 2013 Eastern District Auditions held at CNU.
She currently is an adjunct faculty member at the VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Department of Music where she teaches the piano. She also has a private studio where she works with talented young musicians. Her students are among major prize winners in local and state competitions.
Smedina-Starke has given many solo piano recitals as well as lecture-recitals. In 2006 she presented a lecture recital at Virginia Commonwealth University “Carl Maria von Weber and the Konzertstűck for the Piano Op. 79”. She has presented a lecture-recital “Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and The Seasons for the Piano Op. 37b” for the MCV Department of Gastroenterology at Virginia Commonwealth University as well as at the Richmond Public Library. She also performed for Virginia Music Teachers Association Conference in October of 2011.
In 2013 she presented a lecture recital “Robert Schumann: Scenes from Childhood Op. 15” for the MCV Department of Gastroenterology at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as at the Richmond Public Library. In 2014 she received RMTA Teacher of the Year Award. In 2014 she presented a lecture recital “M. Ravel: Mother Goose Suite” at VCU. In 2015 she presented a lecture-workshop “The Phenomenon of Russian Pianism and Russian Piano Techniques” at VCU Global Summer Institute of Music at Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as at the VCU Piano Fest 2015 and she will be a featured clinician at the WVMTA and VMTA Conferences in October of 2016.