Bellingham, WA.—The Bellingham Festival of Music regretfully announces the cancellation of pianist Kuok-Wai Lio due to illness but is delighted to announce the engagement of prize-winning Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev as soloist on the July 13 program. Yakushev will perform the originally announced Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1.
The rest of the program, Mussorgsky’s opera prelude Dawn on the River Moskva and the Mahler Symphony No. 4 with soprano Ilana Davidson remains the same. Artistic Director Michael Palmer conducts.
Winner of the 2005 World Piano Competition which took place in Cincinnati, OH, Mr. Yakushev received his first award at age 12 as a prizewinner of the Young Artists Concerto Competition in his native St. Petersburg. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2007 with 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 Third Piano Concerto.
Writing about Mr. Yakushev’s recital in Alice Tully Hall, Anne Midgette of the New York Times commented: “Mr. Yakushev can do just about anything he wants. In the Haydn Sonata in D that meant finding in a Steinway the tinkling, busy-sounding alter ego of its predecessor, the fortepiano, a quality that resounded through the fast passagework of the first and third movements, though it yielded to a dark, mellow romanticism in the second. In the notoriously difficult Prokofiev Sonata No. 7, the instrument took on a whole different character, ringing and martial yet tinged with this composer’s brand of lighthearted irony. Mr. Yakushev showed superb control, bringing the music to the brink of hysteria and the piano’s capacity for noise making, without ever letting it get away from him…He also showed a consistent gentleness, a fluid touch even in forceful passages that let the music flow with legato and smoothed its edges, though it didn’t mask them.”
In 2015-16, Mr. Yakushev has given recitals in Russia and several American cities and performed as concerto soloist with orchestras in Russia, including playing the Mendelssohn Concerto No. 1 with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in February.
The highlights of Mr. Yakushev’s 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 September 2014 Mr. Yakushev became a member of the St. Petersburg Piano Quartet, which performs extensively around the United States.
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”.
Among his many honors, Mr. Yakushev in 1997 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, Mr. Yakushev became a recipient of the prestigious Gawon International Music Society’s Award in Seoul, Korea.
Mr. Yakushev attended the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music in St. Petersburg, and subsequently came to New York City to attend Mannes College of Music where he studied with legendary pianist Vladimir Feltsman.
For more information: www.bellinghamfestival.org
ABOUT THE BELLINGHAM FESTIVAL OF MUSIC
Nestled between snow-capped mountains and island-studded bay, Bellingham, Washington’s spectacular natural beauty provides the ideal backdrop for the celebration of classical music. Since 1993, the Bellingham Festival of Music has enlivened the summer season with outstanding live orchestral performances and chamber music recitals for Northwest Washington audiences. Under the direction of co-founder and noted American conductor Michael Palmer, the festival orchestra is composed of some of the finest musicians in the United States and Canada, many of them principals in such illustrious orchestras as the New York Philharmonic and the Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta Symphonies. They are joined by eminent soloists who have included Garrick Ohlsson, Lynn Harrell, Arnaldo Cohen, Vadim Gluzman, Joshua Bell, Frederica von Stade, and Pepe Romero. In addition, the festival boasts a resident chamber ensemble, currently the M-Prize winning Calidore String Quartet, which presents recitals as well as participating in community educational and engagement activities.
Of equal importance to its summer season are the Festival’s year-round outreach initiatives which extend the beauty of classical music to youngsters in the region. Among these programs are masterclasses, and both the Play it Forward Chamber Music Residency and Beethoven in the Schools project which bring music to K-12 classrooms. In 2014-15, BFM also helped kick start the return of the Fifth Grade Strings program in the public schools. And in 2016, donated $10,000 worth of string instruments to the program, ensuring every child has an instrument to play.
The Festival’s artistic excellence has been recognized widely throughout the country and its concerts and recordings have been broadcast nationally, first by NPR and most recently by American Public Media on its Performance Today show. Among these recordings are the three-CD set of the complete Beethoven Piano Concertos featuring Garrick Ohlsson with Michael Palmer conducting the Festival Orchestra. These performances were recorded live at the Festival on the Natural Soundfields label in 2000.
The recipient of grants from several entities, the Festival received National Endowment for the Arts grants in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2015—a resounding endorsement of the quality of its performances and the contribution it makes to regional and national cultural life.