Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa is quickly becoming established as one of the most charismatic and versatile performers of his generation. A winner of Astral’s 2017 National Auditions, he was also the top prizewinner at the Sphinx Competition (2016), the Thaviu Competition for String Performance (2013), and the Alhambra Orchestra Concerto Competition (2006). He recently appeared as concerto soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Firelands Symphony, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
Recent recital engagements include those for the Mainly Mozart Festival, Nantucket Musical Arts Society, Bargemusic, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Carnegie Hall, the Supreme Court of the United States, the Heifetz Institute, Meadowmount School of Music, New York City’s “Strad for Lunch” series, the International Beethoven Project, and the Perlman Music Program’s Alumni Recital, as well as for universities across the U.S.
An enthusiastic interpreter of music for choir and cello, Mr. Mesa was a featured instrumentalist on The Crossing’s 2017 Grammy-nominated album Bonhoeffer. Led by Donald Nally, the multi-award-winning choir invited Mr. Mesa for return solo engagements at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Longwood Gardens, the Winter Garden (broadcast on WNYC), and New York’s Theological Seminary. He has also collaborated with The Crossing for the U.S. premiere of Astralis, for choir and solo cello, by Wolfgang Rihm. He also recently performed as soloist in a choral performance at the Washington National Cathedral. As a chamber musician, Mr. Mesa has toured internationally with Itzhak Perlman, and is a member of the St. Petersburg Piano Quartet. The quartet has played to sold-out audiences at Bargemusic, Doheny Mansion, Kohl Mansion, Music Mountain, and the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach. He has also collaborated with such artists as Roger Tapping, Paul Katz, Andres Diaz, and Joseph Silverstein.
Mr. Mesa has been principal cellist for the Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and its Contemporary Music Ensemble. He has performed under the batons of James Levine, Tan Dun, David Afkham, Alan Gilbert, James Conlon, Nicholas McGegan, Ludovic Morlot, Franz Welser-Most, Joel Sachs, Benjamin Zander, Victor Yampolsky, Donald Nally, and Timothy J. Robblee.
Mr. Mesa is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Northwestern University, where he was a Richard and Helen Thomas Fellow and received Graduate Program Honors for extraordinary contributions to the String Department. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studies with Julia Lichten. His principal teachers have been Timothy Eddy, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Mark Churchill, Ross Harbaugh, and Wells Cunningham.
Thomas Mesa plays a Richard Tobin cello, dated 1820.
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