Yu Kosuge Takes CSUS Piano Series by Storm

Despite a cold, rainy, windy Saturday night, CSUS’s Capistrano Music Recital Hall was at near capacity for the debut of the 17th annual CSUS Concert Piano Series. Founder and host of the event, Professor Richard Cionco, explained that Yu Kosuge was selected to kick off the Piano Series because she represents the youngest generation of professional pianists enjoying a sky-rocketing success world-wide. The evening’s event was graciously sponsored by Richard Graves, M.D.Ms. Kosuge entered Tokyo University of the Art at the ripe old age of 4, after she was selected for a program aimed at providing specialized education to gifted children. At the age of nine, she made her orchestral debut playing with the Tokyo New City Orchestra. She has released nine CDs and has also published a book, Jõnetsu no Cadenza, in which she recalls her career path in music as well as humorous incidents from her concert life.

[singlepic id=46 w=600 h=400]The audience was a mix of young and old. Most notable was Edward McGrath, age 94, who has had the pleasure of watching some of the greatest names in piano perform and can now add Ms. Kosuge to that list.

Yu Kosuge arrived on stage with her customary salmon-colored dress and black tennis shoes, which were later replaced by beautiful sparkling high heel shoes after the intermission. During her first set you could hear the beeping of a truck backing up. I got excited, thinking here’s the reason she’s sky-rocketing to the top, only to discover it was just the CSUS Marching Band unloading their concert equipment. There was some shuffling noise coming from the hall until Professor Cionco kicked some band butt between songs. Poor guys had no idea there was a concert going on, let alone that a world renowned pianist was in the house.

Despite a rocky start with a wardrobe malfunction and a bit of noise, Yu Kosuge’s performance was spectacular. I’m no piano aficionado and I don’t consider myself well-versed in the cultural art of music, but the crowd’s reaction to her performance and the chatter afterwards made it quite obvious that she’s a force to be reckoned with. She received several standing ovations and I overheard people talking about the intensity of how she played, as if she were channeling energy from an unknown source. Even I could feel the intensity.

Granted I have no idea if her performance was flawless from a technical perspective, but the wonderful sounds emanating from her fingertips were breathtakingly magical. With a touch of pianissimo, a wide range of colors, and a little staccato here and there, she won the audience over from the moment she started playing.

She started the evening with works by both Beethoven and Chopin, moving on to Japanese composer, Toru Takemitsu, after the intermission. The climax of the evening was when she played the twelve Etudes, Opus 10 by Chopin. To the audience’s delight, she performed this difficult piece magnificently, and here I was thinking I was going to be able to catch up on some well needed rest. No way. This woman can play pianissimo like no other and then, BOOM, the piano roars to life nearly knocking you out of your seat.

This wonderful performance is just the beginning!

The CSUS Concert Piano Series was started in 1994 by the Professor of Piano, Richard Cionco, and for seventeen years has included world-class artists from as far away as England, France, and Japan. This year is no different, scheduled to appear are:

Evelyn Chen ““ Saturday, February 5th at 7:30 pm
Jon Nakamatsu ““ Sunday, March 27th at 3:00 pm
Adam Neiman ““ Saturday, April 16th at 7:30 pm

The annual Piano Series also offers several free Piano Master classes taught by some of the most respected names in the piano world, including:

Evelyn Chen ““ Monday, February 7th at 2:00 pm
Mark Valenti ““ Monday, February 21st, at 2:00 pm
Adam Neiman ““ Friday, April 15th at 6:00 pm

The Series culminates with the annual Piano Festival slated for April 16-18, 2011. The Valencia Young Pianist Competition will be held on Saturday, April 16. It’s not open to the public, but guest artist Adam Neiman will be performing at 7:30pm that night in the Music Recital Hall.

LOCATION: Music Recital Hall, CSUS, 6000 J St., Sacramento
COST: $15 general; $10 students and seniors
FOR MORE INFORMATION: (916) 278-5155; www.csus.edu/music

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