Irina Kulikova was born in Chelyabinsk, the capital of South-Ural, Russia. Under the guidance of her mother - the cellist Vinera Kulikova, composer and guitarist Victor Kozlov and musicologist Alexandr Volgusnov she started developing her musicianship from the earliest age.
One of the first leading guitarists to discover Irina’s rare gifts was the Spanish master José María Gallardo del Rey:
"If you close your eyes, it’s like you hear a grown-up play. She truly is a musician."
Irina was only twelve at that time and already travelling around Russia and abroad for gala-concerts and festivals. She was admitted into “New Names”, the international program for young talents. At fourteen, she was included in the book "The Classical Guitar, its evolution, players and personalities since 1800" by Maurice J. Summerfield.
When she was 17, Irina moved to Moscow to study solo-performing, chamber music and teaching at the Gnessins Academy. She graduated in 2005. Meanwhile, she had started her studies at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, where she graduated with honour in 2008.
Irina studied with great teachers like Marco Tamayo, Carlo Marchione, Simone Fontanelli (modern music), Howard Penny (baroque music) and Hans Brüderl (baroque lute). She participated in Master Classes with (amongst others) José María Gallardo del Rey, Kshyhtoph Peleh, John Mills, Sergio Assad, Eliot Fisk, Manuel Barrueco, Ricardo Gallen and David Russell.
Ever since her early recognition, Irina has given concerts in over twenty countries. She performed as a solist, in a great variety of ensembles and with a number of philharmonic orchestra’s in Belgium, Italy and Russia.
Irina played in marvellous halls like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the famous cathedral of Coria in Spain, the Historical Museum on the Red Square in Moscow, the Academic Capella in St. Petersburg and the Schloss Mirabel in Salzburg. She gave recitals and masterclasses on numerous international guitar festivals like Iserlohn (Germany), West Dean (England), Legnani (Italy), Naxos (Greece), Esztergom (Hongarije), Niksic (Montenegro), Saltillo (Mexico) and Miami (USA). She played for various members of the royal and aristocratic families of Germany and Denmark.
In recent years, Irina Kulikova was awarded a large array of prizes in the most prestigious international competitions in the world, culminating with five first prizes in 2008: "Michele Pittaluga", Alessandria, Italy; "Guitarra Alhambra", Valencia, Spain; "Forum Gitarre Wien", Austria; "International Guitarcompetition Iserlohn", Germany; and the "Twents Gitaarfestival", The Netherlands.
In 2005, Irina recorded her first solo CD in Moscow, with compositions of Dionisio Aguado, Johann Kaspar Mertz, Frederico Moreno-Torroba, Joaquín Rodrigo and others. In September 2009 her new CD was released, with works of Manuel Ponce, Alexander Tansman, Leo Brouwer and Antonio José, recorded in Toronto with the Naxos label.
Since 2007 Irina lives and teaches in The Netherlands. She continues to broaden her musical horizons and to share a varied repertoire with audiences around the world: as a solist, in the duo ‘Irina & Felicia’ with the magnificent Dutch flutist Felicia van den End and with a variety of ensembles and orchestras.