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MESA cello

piano ILYA


Free admission, complimentary childcare

Thomas Mesa, Cuban-American cellist, is quickly establishing himself as one of the most charismatic and engaging performers of his generation with solo engagements across the United States.  Thomas was the Winner of the $50,000 First Prize in the 2016 Sphinx Competition, Thaviu Competition for String Performance (Chicago, 2013), and the Alhambra Orchestra Concerto Competition.  As a soloist, Thomas’ most recent past and present engagements include the Mainly Mozart Festival, Bargemusic, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series, Columbia University, Carnegie Hall, The Supreme Court of The United States, The Heifetz Institute (guest artist), Meadowmount School of Music, Strad for Lunch Series in NYC, International Beethoven Project, Perlman Music Program Alumni Recital as well as universities across the United States.  Recent and upcoming concerto engagements include the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Most recently, Thomas was one of the featured instrumentalists on The Crossing Choir’s album, “Bonhoeffer,” which was nominated for a GRAMMY. Led by Donald Nally, this multiple award-winning ensemble invited Thomas as the featured soloist at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Longwood Gardens, The Winter Garden (broadcast on WNYC) and the Theological Seminary in New York City.  Additionally, Thomas and The Crossing Choir collaborated on the American Premiere of “Astralis” (Choir and Solo Cello) composed by Wolfgang Rihm, one of the most important composers of this generation.  

As a chamber musician, Thomas has toured with Itzhak Perlman and Protegés both nationally and internationally. He is a member of St. Petersburg Piano Quartet, which is are in high demand for the most important series across the nation, having played sold out concerts at Barge Music, Doheny Mansion, Kohl Mansion, Music Mountain and countless other venues across the U.S.

Thomas is a sought-after teaching artist for his innate ability to connect with students and teach them to teach themselves.  Future and past masterclasses include institutions such as U.C Berkeley, University of Nevada – Las Vegas, University of Miami, and Meadowmount School of Music.  Thomas has held faculty positions at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, Montecito International Music Festival, St. Petersburg International Music Academy, The Mozart Academy at John Jay College in New York, and Manhattan School of Music where he teaches through the Long Distance Learning Program.  

Thomas has attended Summer festivals and institutes include the Perlman Chamber Workshop (with additional residencies in Stowe, Vermont), Heifetz International Music Institute, Banff Masterclasses, Kronberg Academy, Royal Danish Academy Masterclasses, Aspen Music Festival, and Kneisel Hall.

P L A N  Y O U R  V I S I T
E N J O Y  A  P R E V I E W

Thomas’ extensive orchestral experience includes principal cellist for Northwestern Symphony Orchestra and Contemporary Music Ensemble; Juilliard Orchestra; Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in Boston; and principal cellist of Greater Miami Youth Symphony. 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.

Thomas is a graduate of The Juilliard School (B.M. 2012) where he received various scholarships; and Northwestern University (M.M. 2014) where he was the recipient of the Richard and Helen Thomas Fellowship and Graduate Program Honors for extraordinary contributions to the String Department.   Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where he studies with Julia Lichten.  His principal teachers have been Timothy Eddy, Hans Jorgen Jensen, Mark Churchill, Ross Harbaugh, and Wells Cunningham.  Thomas plays on a Richard Tobin cello dated 1826.

Ilya Yakushev


Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev, with many awards and honors to his credit, continues to astound and mesmerize audiences at major venues on three continents.  He made his San Francisco Symphony début in 2007 with Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, performing Prokofiev’s First and Fourth Piano Concertos as part of the Symphony’s “Prokofiev Festival.”  His performances were included in the top ten classical music events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, and prompted a return to the Symphony in September 2009 with Maestro Tilson Thomas performing Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto.  

Highlights of his 2014-15 season included return appearances with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and Brevard Music Center Orchestra.  He also performed with the La Crosse Symphony, Pensacola Symphony, and Saratov Philharmonic.    

In February 2014, British label Nimbus Records published “Prokofiev by Yakushev Vol. 1” CD.  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”.

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, 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, Ilya 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, Ilya became a recipient of the prestigious Gawon International Music Society Award in Seoul, Korea.

Ilya 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.

Thomas Mesa and Ilya Yakushev appears by arrangement with Lisa Sapinkopf Artists

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