The Power of Music

(Yoshika Masuda)

On Friday, April 12, High Desert Chamber Music’s 16th season will continue with the Central Oregon debut of Sakura Cello Quintet. We had the opportunity to speak with Yoshika (Yoshi) Masuda, co-founder and cellist in Sakura, about his love of the cello, his history with the group, and his love of chamber music.

Yoshi was born in Japan, where his father was an amateur jazz musician. Yoshi and his friends would often go see his dad perform at the local jazz clubs where he would always go up on stage to try to pluck a string (sometimes mid-performance!). His dad took this as a sign and handed him a cello on his fifth birthday… and the rest is history!

Around the age of 12, Yoshi and family moved from Japan to Australia. While the approach to music education was quite a bit different, Japan and Australia offered something unique. Yoshi recalls that “building a dependable foundation was a focus of my lessons when I was in Japan, but in general, I felt the education in Australia allowed me to be more free with my expression. I feel I got the best of both worlds.”

While Yoshi has had a rewarding career as both a soloist and a chamber musician, chamber music is really where the joy in music-making lies for him. “I play in many groups but there’s nothing like making music intimately with musicians you respect.” The Sakura Cello Quintet was formed while all the members were students at USC. They wanted to form a cello ensemble that worked as seriously as any traditional string ensemble. According to Yoshi, “Everyone brings something unique to the table. All the members are great artists so performing as an ensemble is very inspiring.”

Like most musicians, it is difficult for Yoshi to pinpoint specific repertoire that is his favorite. The romantics like Schumann and Brahms really appeal to him, but if he had to pick a “desert island disc,” it would be Bach. When asked whether he had a particular piece that he held in high regard, Yoshi told me about playing Bruch’s Kol Nidrei.  While he was learning the piece, he was visiting a friend’s daughter in the hospital who had lost her ability to speak and move. He played the piece and afterward, while she couldn’t speak, a single tear rolled down her cheek. “She expressed her appreciation for the music in the only way she could — with that single teardrop. This was the moment I realized the power of music and the effect it could have on others. If I could evoke any kind of emotions through my music, then that is the single greatest compliment a musician can ever receive.”

Please join us on Friday, April 12 at 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Oregon for a program of Beethoven, Schubert, Debussy and much more. This concert is brought to you by Drew Family Dentistry and there will be a pre-concert talk at 6:45pm. Tickets are available through High Desert Chamber Music by phone or online.

Come hear the music!

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