Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

Mike Lawson • News • June 27, 2018

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Marking its 30th anniversary, the Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) program recognized the 2018 winners during its annual Celebration Weekend, held June 23 to 25, 2018 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.

With the inclusion of this year’s 11 winners, exactly 300 musicians have earned the “YYPA winner” distinction throughout the program’s rich and illustrious history.

Many have gone on to highly successful music careers, performing with major jazz groups, playing in top symphony orchestras or teaching at prestigious universities and conservatories. Previous winners include: Conrad Jones (2008 YYPA Trumpet Winner), who currently serves as the principal trumpet of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; Walter Blanding, Jr. (1990 YYPA Saxophone Winner), now performing with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and the Wynton Marsalis Quintet; and Jake Harpster (2010 YYPA Percussion Winner), who is a member of the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own.”

The 2018 celebration weekend was packed with workshops designed to support the aspiring musicians’ personal development and career goals. Working closely with Yamaha staff members and guest artists, the young artists set goals, developed interview skills and had honest and deep conversations about career paths.

“My time as a Yamaha Young Performing Artist impacted me beyond measure. I remember being quickly inspired by my fellow YYPA winners, and the experience impacted my work ethic for years to come! I rely on the skills developed during the YYPA weekend (and my Yamaha trumpets!) to this day, both in the practice room and on the job,” said Conrad Jones, 2018 YYPA trumpet winner.

The winners also worked with featured guest Yamaha performing artist, trumpet virtuoso Allen Vizzutti; collaborative pianist Linda Mark; and an Indiana University all-star jazz combo comprised of Luke Gillespie on piano, Jeremy Allen on bass and Steve Houghton on drum set.

The weekend culminated with the prestigious 30th anniversary celebration concert during the Music for All™ Summer Symposium on Monday, June 25, which featured the YYPA Winners in solo performance. Yamaha Performing Group, Boston Brass — a quintet that has entertained audiences worldwide — joined Vizzutti for an opening fanfare.

“The YYPA program has continued uninterrupted for 30 years, which is a testament to the commitment Yamaha has to education and to nurturing young musicians at every level of development,” says John Wittmann, director of artist relations and education, Yamaha Artist Services Indianapolis. “The program has allowed us to spend purposeful, one-on-one time with extraordinary musicians on the verge of launching their careers. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness the overpowering impact made at the celebration weekend.”

The 2018 YYPA winners include:

Abby Easterling – flute; Grapevine, Texas

Sara Han – clarinet; Philadelphia, Penn.

Eder Rivera – oboe; San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Eric Nakanishi – saxophone; Pleasant Hill, Calif.

Joseph Tkach – trumpet; Leander, Texas

Ian Kaufman – trombone; San Diego, Calif.

Joshua Brown – violin; Gurnee, Illinois

Cole Davis – upright bass; New York, New York

Chin-Li Sophia Lo – percussion; Fremont, Calif.

Carles Pereira – drum set; Barcelona, Spain

Angie Zhang – piano; Princeton, New Jersey

“[The performance] was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Joshua Brown, 2018 YYPA Violin Winner. “I’ve never felt anything like this – finishing my last bow and everyone’s just screaming at me… 2,000 people from the audience. I don’t know if I’d ever get to experience something like that as a classical musician, but this has been an unforgettable experience.”

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