This is a more personal post than usual, concerning the life of a truly fine musician, a friend and mentor of mine. This week, I have played some works by piano virtuoso Yoshiko Kobayashi Yerkes, who died in the early morning today, Jan. 26, 2011. She was born and raised in Japan, traveled to India, became a resident of the United States, living in Redondo Beach, CA near Los Angeles (and she would say, finally resides with her Lord in Heaven). Her musical heritage can be traced firmly back to the classical masters: “Haydn, teacher of Beethoven, teacher of Lizst, teacher of Schnabel, teacher of Myers, teacher of Ewing, teacher of Yoshiko.”
Yoshiko battled cancer for about eight years through resurgences and remissions with tremendous grace, and surprising joy – which she always attributed to her faith in Christ. Through this personal difficulty, she continued to play, and to teach. She had a special gift for teaching children with a gentle firmness. She had a personal working relationship with Fred Bock (best known for his arrangements for hymnals & other religious works), her husband Steve is an accomplished musician, and her work was admired by many fine musicians of high standing. Her work encompassed recording for television scores and concertizing.
I am privileged to say she was a mentor and supporter of me as I began playing harp as an adult. For the observant, it was impossible to work with Yoshi without learning something- a way to approach a piece, a way to attack the work, a subtle phrasing.
Yoshiko recorded two CDs: PIANO SOLOS and LIFE
LIFE, her second CD, she referred to as a work of her maturity. Still displaying her incredible gifts on masterworks, she also lends her talent to exquisite arrangements of well known hymns.
For more information on her CDs: http://www.yoshikoyerkes.com/
Our care and condolences to friends and family of this accomplished artist.
Kara Dahl Russell, Classical Music Host