I had been in bed all week to recover from sick, but my cough has been diminishing and I think I will be well and ready to begin the classes from tomorrow! During these sick days I somehow managed to go outside and spend a lovely birthday with wonderful friends (will power?) and catching up with friends from distances. This year I will be teaching even more than last year--primary and secondary collegiate piano, community school, and as a TA for my dear teacher. I'm excited to teach students from diverse levels, ages and background, and grow as a teacher. This semester, all my courses are in jazz :) I am SUPER excited to be back in jazz courses and studying with both great professors. DMA Year 2, here I come!
Yoshiko will begin to teach at the Eastman Community Music School as an intern piano instructor from this fall. I am very excited to join the ECMS members--I used to dream about teaching at ECMS when I was an undergrad at Eastman!!
This summer I didn't go to a long-term festival. It was a great timing for recharging. With many travelings and a summer course in between, it wasn't purely relaxing either, but I got to relax much more than usual and see many friends and family and various concerts in between (Texas, California, Rochester, Massachusetts, Tokyo, Okinawa). There are many things I am excited to work on in the next school year and new things I hope to explore further. School will begin in a few days. May the new year be filled with shared joy, success, happiness, and new opportunities!
SAN MARCOS, TX---I went to the Texas State International Piano Festival, a week-long piano festival full of master classes, lessons, and concerts. I got to play in Boris Slutsky's master class and enjoyed meeting new teachers and colleagues. Many warm-hearted people! My body wasn't quite recovered from everything I had until this festival, but I made through each day. It was also nice to see my teacher and some studio mates again after not seeing them for a month. On the last day, I got a third place in the festival's competition.
After the festival, I headed to Houston to visit my very dear friend Vivien and her new family members. Vivien is a friend since middle school, and the last time I saw her was three years ago. Although we haven't lived in a same place since middle school, it has been a treasure having such great friend. It was so nice seeing her and her family.
CHICAGO, IL---Immediately after the concerto concert, it was a jury week for my students, and right after the last student's jury, I left to Chicago for a solo concerto at Chicago Cultural Center. I didn't realize this until my friend pointed out after the concert, but the program included pieces by three women composers (Clara Schumann, Tonia Ko, and me). This was a coincidence, but it was well-suited for the occasion since the concert was sponsored by the Musicians Club of Women. Other pieces include Handel, Scriabin, Robert Schumann, and a piece called "Homage a Faure" by American composer Robert Helps. I've been wanting to learn the piece for awhile and it was nice to finally be able to perform the beautiful piece in public. Helps passed away about ten years. The Preston Bradley Hall had such a beautiful glass ceiling, and it being a city attraction, there were many people in the audience. I enjoyed talking with some audiences and seeing my dear friends Danielle and Kara afterward. Now, back to Rochester for all my final exams!
KILBOURN HALL, ROCHESTER NY-- I've been wanting to perform concertos with orchestra again for awhile. Actually, for a very long time, since the last time I performed Beethoven No.3 concerto in Long Beach in 2005. Luckily, I was able to experience it again, not only one but two concertos in the same program, with the help of over thirty talented and generous musicians from Eastman and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. At 9pm, we first performed Mozart No.24 concerto. In Mozart, I performed my own cadenza in public for the first time. It is a truly mature, great piece and I already wish to perform it again. Intermission followed, and we began Schumann Piano Concerto, probably around 9:50pm. This was a concerto I've been wanting to play for many years. Not only it is Schumann (one of my favorite composers), but also the concerto to me is very genuine and pure. There is no faking or use of virtuosity for the sake of show-off. The third movement, which is one of the greatest movement of all piano concertos, was of course the trickiest to put together with the orchestra. Technically it is the hardest movement of the concerto on piano part, but the pure joy expressed in the movement helps one to forget about the difficulty. In the dress rehearsal, which was only three hours before the actual concert, the tricky hemiola section wasn't fully together. But on the stage, it was the best! Everything we did came out, and I felt we were really unified mentally too. It was such a special moment. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who shared their talents and hours of rehearsals for this concert. Special thanks to Jerry Hou for generously taking on this grand concert. Many thanks to Dr. Elisi and all of my teachers who helped me prepare for this concert, and family members and dear friends Hannah and Tonia for coming from out of town to be here with me tonight (and for the epic outing afterward).
Yoshiko returned to Chicago to perform solo piano at the Union League Club in Chicago. The program also featured cellist Emily Hu and soprano Catherine Spitzer. It was so nice seeing friends back there!
SHREVEPORT, LA--Yoshiko was selected as a semi-finalist for the International Wideman Piano Concerto Competition. She will perform Mozart Concerto No.24 in C Minor.
ROCHESTER, NY--Yoshiko returned to Eastman and begins a new chapter as a doctoral student. She will also teach 25 students weekly and a class on topography of fingering as a graduate assistant of primary and secondary piano instructor, and a teaching assistant for Dr. Elisi with whom she pursues DMA. Ready, set, go!!!
Garth Newel Music Center, VA- I enjoyed attending the Garth Newel Music Festival as a piano fellow. It was in a middle of a mountain in West Virginia, with fireflies filling the space at nights (so beautiful!). Everyone had two ensembles and I got to work on Arensky Piano Trio and Beethoven Op.90 No.2, both of which I genuinely enjoyed. Often times, we went to the water falls, run in nearby high school, and enjoyed sight-reading with some wines. Thank you for a great memory! July and August, 2013.
CHICAGO, IL- Yoshiko won the 2013 Annual Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Scholarship Competition in the Piano College/Post-graduate Division.
Yoshiko won the second prize at the 2013 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in the Collegiate/Professional Solo Division.
With great delight and honor-- Yoshiko will pursue Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and Literature back at the prestigious Eastman School of Music from the Fall 2013 in Rochester, NY. Yoshiko will study under Dr. Enrico Elisi, and work as his teaching assistant and a secondary piano instructor at Eastman. Yoshiko is also happy that Northwestern ends in late June, so she can enjoy more time and opportunities with people she loves in Evanston.
After the recital with Mr. Chow.
EVANSTON, IL, April 5, 2013, Lutkin Hall-- Yay! I have been sick beforehand but interestingly it was the first full-length solo recital I feel happy about. Works performed today were-
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No.24 in F# Major, Op.78
BATES White Lies for Lomax
SCRIABIN Fantasie in B Minor, Op.28
SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, Op.16
Special thanks to Professor Alan Chow for helping me prepare this recital, his excellence and incredible dedication in teaching, and for his continuous encouragement and inspiring musicianship. Many thanks everyone who came and supported me throughout the preparation! It means a lot that my friends and family came and I am so grateful for all the support and the whole experience.
CHICAGO, IL- Yoshiko won the The Jerome and Elaine Nerenberg Foundation Scholarship of $10,000 Award at the 2013 Musicians Club of Women Scholarship Audition today. Yoshiko will appear in the monthly concert series including the Chicago Cultural Center in 2013-2014 Season.
Yoshiko was accepted to the Garth Newel Music Center's Young Artist Fellowship. The Young Artists Fellowship Program is a four-week, intensive chamber music program for string players and a pianist. The fellows receive a full scholarship covering tuition, room, and board for the four weeks to work with artists including Robbie Merfeld, Genevieve Feiwen Lee, Bayla Keyes and the Daedalus Quartet. July 8-August 5, 2013, West Springs, Virginia.
With Dr. Robblee & composer Aaron Jay Kernis.
I love contemporary music and I love chamber ensemble aspect of music, so being part of of the Contemporary Music Ensemble at Northwestern has been a lot of fun for me and I am grateful for the huge amount of experiences and exposure to contemporary music repertoire that this ensemble has enabled me to have (even with 8am rehearsals!). Today, one of the pieces we performed was "Invisible Mosaic II"by Aaron Jay Kernis. I'm not sure how to explain the piece except crazy and badass. It is a very virtuosic piece, both for the ensemble and everyone individually in the ensemble (we began rehearsing this piece before performing the concert prior to tonight's concert). I got to play the piano and celeste part tonight. The director Dr. Timothy Robblee has been very dedicated in putting the ensemble together as usual. I enjoyed learning this challenging piece and performing it with everyone tonight!
Usually I take a lot of time making New Year's Resolutions every year (mostly enjoying the artsy part of writing them with color pens), but this year I made it pretty short and simple. I knew I have a big audition season coming up this winter (five trips to NYC and a few other cities) and I wanted to stick with just a few words to get through the challenging time. One of them was to "go for it"-- for example, if I want to participate in a certain summer festival, no matter how high the level is, then apply and do whatever I need to do to be ready for the auditions and prepare to be someone who is ready to attend it. Another one was "less is more." When I began making time and energy for things I really want, being able to say "no" to things I can't commit to at the moment, good things seem to happen. I feel more focused and free...happy! Lately, I have been thinking a lot about "being in the present" and "trusting yourself." I feel these are obvious good wisdom that are stated frequently but it's easier said than understood or done. This year thus far I think I got better at doing "fully focus." When I'm playing a piece of music, I only focus on performing that, when I'm taking a break, I relax and not think about things on my agenda (harder said than done), when I'm working on a paper, I clear my mind and just write the paper, and when I'm talking with a friend, I'm fully engaged in the conversation (that I've been doing pretty well I think...not having a smartphone has advantages too!)...When you throw yourself fully in something, the results may be what you want or not, but there are zero regrets, and even when you get exhausted afterward, it's a refreshing and satisfying kind of exhaustion. Also, since you are fully engaged in doing it and can feel that you've done everything you could do, you're free from the results. Besides, the fact you're "fully engaged" would more likely shows your passion without forcing...whether for auditions or performances or many other things in life. You really have zero competition in the world so it's easier to trust yourself when you just do it, being fully committed and being in the moment. This audition season I took several intensive summer festival auditions besides auditions for D.M.A. Between now and the start of January, I can really feel that I've grown tremendously from getting through the challenging time. In the midst of preparing for big auditions, I traveled a lot (for auditions), got winter flu, sometimes had midterm paper due on my audition date, other day getting food poisoning before interviews, and showed up to all of my responsibilities besides my own auditions. In the middle of the (or, maybe because of the) craziness, I've learned to focus on taking care of myself well no matter where, focus on polishing music each time, and many other happy things happened, like going back to my alma matar, seeing old faces, and meeting new faces. I was so tired, but I was so happy at the same time, and I am so grateful to many people in my life including my teacher and many other mentors and wonderful friends around me for their continuous inspiration, warm support, and positive affirmation! I'll end today with two quotes that have cheered me throughout my recent adventures.
“The universe rewards action. Successful people take action towards a known outcome.You can't think about it.You have to do it—and you don't do it for a week or a month. You do it until. Until you get what you want." (Phillip McGraw)
“The world is like a mirror; frown at it, and it frowns at you. Smile and it smiles, too.” (Herbert Samuels)
Happy New Year, everyone! This year I went to NYC to celebrate New Year's with friends. I've always wanted to do that once and it was indeed a lot of fun and craziness! I came back feeling energized and refreshed to start a whole new year. Classes, rehearsals, teaching started last week, and I have a lot of auditions coming up this season starting from next week. Wish me luck please! :) I hope everyone had nice winter holidays and got to relax. May 2013 be a year filled with lots of laughter, love, and success!
The seashore of Gijón, Spain.
Gijón, SPAIN- Yoshiko returned to the Gijón International Piano Fesival in Gijón, Spain where advanced piano students from around the world study with the world-renowned pianists from New York City, Montreal, Geneva, and Chicago for two weeks. Yoshiko performed in a masterclass and a concert. The guest pianists this year were Alessio Bax and Alexander Kobrin. Both of their recitals were absolutely amazing and inspirational! After hearing one of my favorite pieces, Brahms' Variations on Schumann being performed so beautifully by Alex Kobrin, I got to take a lesson with him too. It was inspiring to hear many talented peers there.
HOUSTON, TX- As the Elgin Trio pianist, Yoshiko headed to a week-long residency in Houston with Steven Gooden (clarinet) and Mira Luxion (cello). We performed at various sites (schools, bar, even prison), got multitude of coaching on chamber music (music, music business, outreach planning, public speaking, etc.), and even taught individually- I gave a masterclass for piano students ranging from elementary school students to high school seniors who have college auditions coming up. That was my personal highlight. As a whole, we had a great time and experience throughout- Elgin Trio lived in the same house and spent 24hrs every day for the whole week, which revealed even more that we work together well. Two weeks before that we were all going crazy with the end of the year, one week before that we competed in the International Chamber Music Competition in Boston (I was writing my final essay on the plane), the day before Houston was graduation (for Steven and Mira). Elgin Trio has been working together closely for the whole year, performing in multiple concerts, master classes, gigs, and Music Bus Tour was a wonderful way to conclude our year. We will be living in different cities next year but we hope to continue our musical endeavor in the future. Big thanks to everyone involved in Music Bus Tour! And thank you Elgin for awesome musical growth together and friendship throughout!
Our video blogs on the Music Bus Tour can be viewed here.
Video 1: Meet Elgin Trio: "We Do Everything Together"
Video 2: Elgin Trio Member Interviews
Video 3: Elgin Trio Arrival to Houston "Things We Love About Houston"
Video 4: Elgin Trio in Action: "School Presentation"
Spring quarter was non-stop busy with recitals after recitals (several voice and instrumental collaborative, chamber, orchestra) and I also played in multiple solo and concerto competitions, including the International New York Artist & Associates Piano Concerto Competition (NYC) and the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition (Boston), both of which I advanced as a semi-finalist. So many music with so many musicians! It was a musically dense and fruitful time, and it feels good to having made through them all. I am very glad to have had the opportunities to play each piece with each musician. Congratulations to everyone who had recitals! Thank you to all of my teachers, coaches, and friends and family for your constant support.
Yoshiko is the winner of the 2012 Pauline Lindsay Award at the Northwestern University. The competition is held annually among first year graduate pianists.
Yoshiko was appointed the Associate Member for the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for 2012-2013 Season. All piano members will work closely with Mary Sauer, the pianist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Post-recital with Elgin Trio.
Yay, it's done! It was one of the best recital I have given. I feel very happy about the whole preparation and recital itself. Being a collaborative recital, it was so much fun performing music with peers together, and I learned a lot through preparing each piece. Thank you Steven Gooden, Mira Luxion, Steven Warren, and Alan Taylor for all the time and works you've put in. Thank you to all professors who helped me prepare for my recital- Prof. Chow, Prof. Wang, and Prof. Buccheri. I am grateful to everyone who came, from campus and distances, including two of my good college friends' parents, members from my work, friends and students, and a parent of my students who baked the reception sweets (they were gone before I arrived haha). Your supports are truly appreciated! Next year will be an all-solo piano recital. I'm excited to pick repertoires for next year's recital!