Music Club's benefit concert to highlight aspiring talents

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

Marika Yasuda's pursuit of music has come full circle.

She'll perform Sunday at a concert to benefit the Williamsburg Music Club's Grants-in-Aid program, a scholarship competition she participated in for eight years.

Her return to the place where everything began doesn't come close to signaling the end of Yasuda's career.

In fact, the 23-year-old pianist has only just begun. She'll be joined Sunday by flutist Thomaz Tavares, 22.

"It's just I think a cool experience for people to see two young people who have really dedicated themselves to studying music," Yasuda said. "And to showcase what we've learned so much and so far this year."

Both Yasuda and Tavares currently study music at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. Yasuda is pursuing a master's of music in piano performance, following her recent graduation from Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

But she grew up in Williamsburg, and started playing piano at age 4. It wasn't until Yasuda auditioned for the Grants-in-Aid program that she decided to devote her life to music.

Each year, Williamsburg Music Club's Grants-in-Aid program provides scholarship awards to dedicated music students in grades five through 12 throughout Greater Williamsburg. Awards are decided through a competition.

"That was like my first official competition," Yasuda said. "I didn't realize where it would take me. I didn't realize how important it would be later on."

She'd end up competing every year for eight years, winning an award each year.

Even more than financial support, "it was just very encouraging to have that kind of award," Yasuda said. "It made me want to keep going, see where I could take my music and my piano playing."

Williamsburg Music Club president Rosanne Reddin said the Grants-in-Aid program is funded mostly by members' dues, in addition to donations. In March, the club awarded nearly $7,000 to 16 students. Donations from Sunday's concert will benefit scholarships granted in 2017.

"These children, or young people, are just so talented," Reddin said. "We are so lucky in this area."

For Sunday's concert, Yasuda has prepared for her hometown a program she's passionate about. The concert begins with Brahms' Klavierstücke, a four-piece work and Brahms' last composition for solo piano. Next is Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise. The concert will conclude with a Franck Sonata originally for piano and violin, but Tavares arranged the violin part for flute.

"We've gone really deep into the music," Tavares said. "I think we've gotten to the point where we can really deliver an exciting, interesting product."

"Marika is going all out," he continued. "It's really virtuosic stuff."

Both musicians hope to pursue careers in music performance, especially collaborative performance, before eventually teaching.

Yasuda lives and breathes music, it's woven into her being.

"Where I am now," she said, "it was unimaginable for me when I first started."

So, along with Tavares, Yasuda returns to Williamsburg as testament to pursuing and studying music.

"If you give 100 percent, you do all you can do, and you focus on being intelligent, and focus on being innovative and just the best possible musician you can be, there is a shot that your career could be something absolutely incredible," Tavares said. "There's a shot that, through your performance or your teaching, that you can help people just sort of pop out of…a hermetically sealed life."

"You just should really go for it," he said.

Tavares and Yasuda will continue doing just that.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Want to go?

When: 3 p.m., May 15

Where: Williamsburg Library Theatre, 515 Scotland St.

Admission: Free, donations gratefully accepted

Info: williamsburgmusicclub.org

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
72°