Aisa Ijiri Carnegie Hall Debut Recital in March 2017

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After a memorable evening of piano music at St John´s Smith Square in London where the guests enjoyed a beautiful selection of the great works of Liszt and Schumann and 10 pieces of the breathtakingly romantic fairytale "Romeo & Juliet" by Prokofiev ending with the spirited rhythm of flamenco dance "Fantasia Baetica" by de Falla-  AISA IJIRI will be giving her Carnegie Hall Debut Recital in New York on March 21.

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WBIB: How do you feel being so close to walking onto the Carnegie Hall stage for the first time?

Very exciting!! Carnegie Hall is such an iconic venue for all performers and it has certainly been one of my dream venues in which I've wished to give a recital one day since I was a child.

I gave my very first concert when I was 7 at the concert hall in Kyoto as a competition winner's prize. I can still feel a butterfly like excitement spinning within me as I walked onto the stage. It was a most inspiring experience I had ever had in my life then. The sound of the piano, the touch of the keyboard on the concert grand, the acoustic, the warm applause from over 500 people who were all there in silence listening to my Beethoven sonata... I was already in my dream! That evening became the beginning of my long, exciting, passionate, challenging, mysterious and beautiful journey to live my life for the love of music.

I often recall the interview of Yo-Yo Ma which I watched on the TV with my mother when I was around 5 years old. In the interview, he was leaving his message which was engraved in my mind: to make a dream come true, we need so many little steppingstones on the way to our final destination of the dream. There were perhaps many more unexpected stones and bumpy roads than I expected, and there was the time when I wondered if the dream would stay as a mirage? Today, I see all my little steppingstones in the past turning into the diamonds and I'm about to jump onto the special diamond of the Carnegie Hall! 

This is not the end of my story, and my journey will continue. I have only one 'music' to play at this recital. It's the music from my heart to say 'THANK YOU' to all my family, friends, professors, supporters and beloved ones who have been a part of my journey until today!

 music at St John´s Smith Square in London

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WBIB: Who is Aisa Ijiri off the stage? Let us know how do you balance your life to keep up with your musical life on and off the stage.

I was a very passionate, curious, imaginative, creative and incredibly sensitive child, and those characters still live vividly within me. I love painting, writing, swimming, running, ice skating and skiing. I was a professionally trained competitive swimmer also a 100m winner at the Track & Field National Junior Championships in Japan for 3 years when I was a teenager. I need both artistic and athletic energy in my daily life. I take my ice skates to skate on the ice rink at the Aleksandar Palace, have a quick run in the woods or swim in the empty swimming pool at my club. This moment gives me such an amazing feeling of freedom on my own. It helps me to rest my mind and refine my thoughts in silence. 

But also I enjoy something completely opposite! I like hanging out with my dear friends and family. Pottering around the city, looking around new collections at my favourite shops such as Dior, CHANEL, Burberry, McQueen, Louboutin ... etc like Miss.Holly Golightly at Breakfast at Tiffany's (Oh, I love Audrey Hepburn!!). And visiting the exhibitions, observing people passing by while having a cup of cappuccino at a cafe, looking at the colours of the sky changing at the twilight... these moments are also my precious time of pleasure! But this type of moment is very much compromised because of my professional commitments. So I found traveling including the transit at the airport is a perfect "off stage" delight. I can have a quick bite of everything within such a short time, and I like the feeling of an adventure!

I have looked at the sky so often since I was 2 (according to my parents!) and my favourite picture of the sky is through the airplane window. I don't know how many times that magical colour moved me to tears. It is not only so beautiful but also very reflective. During my flight, I'm in the transition between the past as a memory and the future as a dream. We'll never see the same sky again just like music. We'll never listen to the same performance or perform the same. I treasure 'the beauty' of only once in the life!

Yes, my answer for "how to balance my life" is to really absorb, feel, enjoy fully and cherish all these elements of what I love, and just need to switch 'on' to be alone myself in the artistic world or 'off' to be as a part of the big pot of life!

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WBIB: Who would you like to perform with?

I wish so often if I could have listened to Mozart playing his piano concertos, Chopin playing his ballades or Liszt playing all 3 books of Années de Pèlerinage. As I was growing up, the great pianists such as Horowitz, Rubinstein, Michelangeli, Ashkenazy, Schiff, Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Kissin, Argerich have all inspired me greatly via their recordings or live performances. The music-making and music-sharing with such amazing artists would bring me a wonderful inspiration! I would of course love to and dream of performing with the Berlin Philharmonic!! That might be scary too, but I would love to experience the magic, perfection and quality of their performance.

But also, I must say I do treasure the most beautiful way of making music with the artists whom I have shared and share in my life such a special inspiration, passion, ideas and most sensitive emotions that words cannot describe!

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WBIB: Please, share with our readers the most romantic piano repertoire.

There are so many romantic piano pieces which will make you fall in love or remind you of that warm, tender and beautiful feeling. But most of the romantic pieces hold a fire of deep passion and a feeling of heartfelt tears too. Chopin's Ballades, Schumann's Fantasie Op.17 or Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No.2 (2nd movement especially!) will take you to the deep romantic ocean while Liszt's Liebesträume and Schumann's Widmung will bring the lovely spring breeze of love. 

But here, I would like to recommend two works in particular- "Tre Sonetti di Petrarca, Années de Pèlerinage/ Italie" by Franz Liszt and "Romeo & Juliet Op.75" by Sergei Prokofiev. These pieces are breathtakingly and heartbreakingly beautiful! There is the greatest tragic love story behind these works. Liszt's "Tre Sonetti di Petraca" was inspired by Petrarch's sonnets dedicated to his beloved imaginary figure Laura in 14th- century Renaissance Italy. And Prokofiev's "Romeo & Juliet Op.75" was originally composed for the ballet "Romeo & Juliet Op.64" based on Shakespeare's most popular play "Romeo & Juliet". In 1935, and later in 1937 Prokofiev selected 10 pieces from the Ballet, rearranged them for piano solo and premiered the work. One can reflect so many sensitive, passionate, deep and loving feelings one experiences in life in these pieces. I dedicated my full heart to my recording of these works on my new album "Ailes d'amour" on N.A.T Records. It's a very romantic CD! 

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Photos by @Lugermad for WBIB 

 

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