For the past twenty years, young musicians from all over the world have been championed by the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Program (YYPA.) The popular music competition and education conference, which takes place in conjunction with the Music For All (MFA) Summer Symposium every summer in Bloomington, Ill. unites students, educators and top performers through a shared passion for performing, teaching and celebrating all styles of music including classical, contemporary and jazz. Since its inception in 1989, YYPA alumni have gone on to join the nation's top orchestras and conservatory faculties, and win numerous accolades, including several Grammy awards.
"The Yamaha Young Performing Artist program recognizes and encourages talented young artists who not only have the ability to play their instruments extremely well, but who also have the gift of communicating through their instruments in those special and unique ways that touch a listener's heart," remarked classical saxophonist Otis Murphy, a 1994 YYPA winner. Currently saxophone professor at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, Murphy joined the IU faculty in 2001 and became one of the youngest members of its faculty in the school's history.
One of the most prolific recent winners has been jazz pianist Aaron Parks, who won in 2000. A piano prodigy from a young age, Parks entered the University of Washington at the age of 14 and at 16 enrolled at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. During his final year at the music school he began touring with Terence Blanchard's band, recording three albums with the artist for Blue Note Records, including the Grammy-winning "A Tale of God's Will" (A Requiem for Katrina.) Parks recently made his solo debut with Blue Note Records. "YYPA was an incredible learning experience," remembers Parks. "To be able to make music with young musicians from all over the world was truly humbling. The program opened a lot of doors for me and it was so beautiful to be among the artists who are striving only for the best." With his technically involved yet boundlessly melodic and sensitive playing, Parks is setting a new standard for jazz piano expression.
Korean-born flutist Jasmine Choi, a YYPA winner in 2004, is currently the Associate Principal Flute in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the music director Paavo Jarvi. Trained by Yamaha artists Julius Baker and Jeffrey Khaner, she holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School. "The whole experience with Yamaha and the YYPA program was just fantastic," said Choi, who recently recorded Mozart's flute concerti for Sony BMG Music Entertainment. "The program has definitely helped me step up to the next performance level. They have given me great guidance and big support. I'm very honored to be a YYPA graduate."
Yamaha has a long and deep history of encouraging and supporting young musicians at every level. YYPA winners enjoy some of the privileges offered to signed Yamaha Performing Artists, including services and support of Yamaha's Artist Relations department. Winners receive an extraordinary performance experience, letters of recommendation, professional advice and discounts on Yamaha instruments. "It's great having Yamaha's support," noted Aaron Parks. "They always come through whenever I need them and that kind of service is extremely valuable."
"The past twenty years of YYPA have given many young talented musicians a major boost," noted John Wittmann, Manager of Education and Artist Relations, Yamaha Corporation of America. "We are proud of all of our winners and look forward to many more years of this important program. It's a real pleasure to hear the success stories of our alumni and to watch their careers unfold."
Wittmann adds, "YYPA is all about the experience. Students arrive not knowing each other and unsure of what is about to happen. Workshops, rehearsals and an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime performance experience unfolds. We love the fact that the winners keep in touch with each other as well as with us and we know that the YYPA experience helps launch some very special careers."
"In Japanese, the word for Yamaha's focus on inspiring something amazing is 'kando,' and this is a cornerstone of Yamaha's continued commitment to create some of the finest instruments in the world," adds Murphy. "The YYPA program gives an incredible boost for emerging young instrumental artists, I'm very thankful to have been a part of it."
For more information on the Yamaha Young Performing Artist Program please click here.