The young Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa is quickly establishing himself as one of the most charismatic and engaging performers of his generation. Mr. Mesa was the winner of the $50,000 First Prize in the 2016 Sphinx Competition; the Thaviu Competition for String Performance (Chicago, 2013); and the Alhambra Orchestra Concerto Competition. Later this month he will perform Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and his performance with the Cleveland Orchestra received this rave review from the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "A listener with closed eyes would have been hard pressed to distinguish [Mesa's] shapely, expressive performance from that of another gifted artist two or three times his age."
Other recent appearances include the Mainly Mozart Festival, Bargemusic, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Carnegie Hall, The U.S. Supreme Court, The Heifetz Institute, Meadowmount School of Music, Strad for Lunch Series in NYC, International Beethoven Project, Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital, and universities nationwide.
Mesa was featured on the GRAMMY-nominated album, “Bonhoeffer,” by The Crossing choir, and has appeared with this ensemble at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, Longwood Gardens, The Winter Garden (broadcast on WNYC) and the Theological Seminary in New York City. Mr. Mesa and The Crossing also collaborated on the American premiere of “Astralis” for choir and solo cello by renowned composer Wolfgang Rihm.
Mr. Mesa has toured with Itzhak Perlman and Protegés both nationally and internationally. He is the cellist of the St. Petersburg Piano Quartet, which in high demand, having played sold-out concerts at Barge Music, Doheny Mansion, Kohl Mansion, Music Mountain and numerous other venues across the U.S.
He is a sought-after educator for his ability to connect with students and teach them to teach themselves. He has given masterclasses at such institutions as U.C Berkeley, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, University of Miami, and Meadowmount School of Music, and has held faculty positions at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Montecito International Music Festival, St. Petersburg International Music Academy, The Mozart Academy at John Jay College in New York, and the Manhattan School of Music.
Mr. Mesa has attended summer festivals and institutes including the Perlman Chamber Workshop (with additional residencies in Stowe, Vermont), Heifetz International Music Institute, Banff Masterclasses, Kronberg Academy, Royal Danish Academy Masterclasses, Aspen Music Festival, and Kneisel Hall. He has been principal cellist of the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble, Juilliard Orchestra, Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Boston, and the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.
He received his Bachelors from Juilliard, where he received various scholarships, and his Masters from Northwestern University, where he was the recipient of the Richard and Helen Thomas Fellowship and Graduate Program Honors for extraordinary contributions to the String Department. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where he studies with Julia Lichten. His principal teachers include Timothy Eddy, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Mark Churchill, Ross Harbaugh, and Wells Cunningham. He plays a Richard Tobin cello dated 1826.
Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev, with many awards and honors to his credit, continues to astound and mesmerize audiences at major venues on three continents.
The New York Times raved, "In Familiar Music, a Pianist Shows What He Can Do [HEADLINE]: Mr. Yakushev can do just about anything he wants . . . superb.” And: “Yakushev was little short of heroic in Rachmaninoff’s pianistic thicket.” (Mostly Mozart Festival, Lincoln Center)
Last season, Ilya Yakushev appeared as piano soloist with the symphony orchestras of New Haven (CT), El Paso (TX), Dubuque (IA), La Crosse (WI), Lake Forest (IL); and Glacier Symphony (MT), in addition to recitals in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Washington.
Highlights of his 2017-18 season included return appearances with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Edmonton Symphony, Las Cruces Symphony, and Reading Symphony, as well as performances with Decatur Symphony and Johnstown Symphony. He will also play recitals in Texas, Louisiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
In 2014, British label Nimbus Records released his CD, “Prokofiev Sonatas Vol. 1”. American Record Guide wrote “Yakushev is one of the very best young pianists before the public today, and it doesn’t seem to matter what repertoire he plays – it is all of the highest caliber.” Volume 2 was released in 2017, as was an all-Russian CD.
In past seasons, he has performed in various prestigious venues worldwide, including Glinka Philharmonic Hall (St. Petersburg), Victoria Hall (Singapore), Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (New York), Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco), and Sejong Performing Arts Center (Seoul, Korea). His performances with orchestra include those with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Rochester Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, and many others.
Winner of the 2005 World Piano Competition which took place in Cincinnati, OH, Mr. Yakushev received his first award at age 12 as a prizewinner of the Young Artists Concerto Competition in his native St. Petersburg. In 1997, he received the Mayor of St. Petersburg’s Young Talents award, and in both 1997 and 1998, he won First Prize at the Donostia Hiria International Piano Competition in San Sebastian, Spain. In 1998, he received a national honor, The Award for Excellence in Performance, presented to him by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation in Moscow. Most recently, Mr. Yakushev received the prestigious Gawon International Music Society Award in Seoul, Korea.
Mr. Yakushev attended the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music in his native St. Petersburg, Russia, and subsequently came to New York City to attend Mannes College of Music where he studied with legendary pianist Vladimir Feltsman.
Ilya Yakushev is a Yamaha artist.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
7 Variations on "Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen," WoO 46
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) arr. Julian Lloyd Weber
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
5 Stücke im Volkston (Five Pieces in the Folk Style)
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19
Lento - Allegro moderato