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.
Smedina-Starke is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Music Honor Society. She is also a member of RMTA (Richmond Music Teachers Association) and VMTA (Virginia Music Teachers Association), as well College Music Society. From 2006-2009 she 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 a judicator to local and state competitions and that includes Richmond Symphonic League Concerto Competition, CMTA (Charlottesville Music Teachers Association ), Virginia James Bland Music Scholarship Competition among others.
Smedina-Starke currently is an adjunct faculty member at the VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Department of Music where she teaches keyboard skills and 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 Konzertstϋck for the Piano Op. 79”. Most recently she 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 Richmond Public Library. She also performed for Virginia Music Teachers Association Conference in October 2011.