Music at St. Paul’s presents the Trillium Piano Trio

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Delray Beach, FL – On Sunday, September 18 at 3pm, the Trillium Piano Trio will perform for Music at St. Paul’s in a concert featuring Franz Schubert’s Piano Trio in one movement in B-flat, D. 28, Beethovens’s Piano Trio No. 3 in c minor, Op. 1, No. 3, and Antonin Dvorák’s Piano Trio No. 3 in f minor, Op. 65, B 130. Made up of pianist Yoko Sata Kothari, violinist Ruby Berland, and ‘cellist Cornelia Brubeck, the Trillium Piano Trio has been a fixture on the Music at St. Paul’s series for several years.

“As we begin our 34th Season,” says series artistic director Dr. David Macfarlane, “we are very happy to present the Trillium Piano Trio, one of our regular performing ensembles. Having world-class performers living among us in Palm Beach County is a real asset to the classical music scene. I hope that everyone comes out to hear this local treasure.”

Tickets are $20 (18 and under FREE) and are available at the door on the day of the concert. Music at St. Paul’s concerts are projected live on a big screen for maximum audience visibility. For more information on this concert and Music at St. Paul’s 30th Anniversary Season, visit St. Paul’s is handicapped accessible.

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About the performers…

Born in Tokyo, pianist Yoko Sata Kothari began her performing career by winning the Northern Japan Classical Piano Competition at the age of eight. She continued to collect top prizes in Japan, such as the Japan Young Pianist Award and the Machida Piano Competition. Since moving to the United States, she has continued to earn awards for her performances, including

second place in the Bartok-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev International Piano Competition, the Kathleen McGowan Piano Scholarship Award, a prize for her outstanding Bartok performance in the Ibla Grand Prize International Competition in Italy, as well as being chosen as one of the finalists in the Simone Belsky International Competition. In May 2017, she won first place in the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in New York and was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall.

As an active solo performer, Ms. Kothari has been making international appearances, including televised broadcasts in China and a series of performances in Italy, which received high praise. She has released 4 CD recordings, with her latest receiving a glowing review: “Ms. Kothari is both a sensitive and strong pianist…her performance of Lyapunov’s ‘Lesghinka’ is almost note-perfect and effective.” (American Record Guide)

Ms. Kothari holds a performing arts degree from the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo, Japan. Her teachers include Takako Maeda, Miwako Tsukada, as well as Dr. Roberta Rust and Phillip Evans at the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Aside from her performing career, together with her husband, Dilip, a classical guitarist, Ms. Kothari teaches at her private studio in North Palm Beach.

Ruby Berland began her violin studies at the age of 6 at the Bergen Conservatory of Music in Bergen, Norway. At the age of 14, she made her orchestral debuts with the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra and Florida Orchestra. Since then, she has appeared as a soloist with various orchestras, and performed in numerous recitals throughout the U.S. and Germany.

She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Berl Senofsky and Victor Danchenko. Later, she went abroad to Germany to study with Andreas Röhn at the Musik Hochschule für Musik and Theater in Hamburg. During her time in Germany, she frequently played in the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra under the directions of Christoph Eschenbach and Günter Wand. She played with them on numerous international tours and festivals, including the Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Lübeck, the Pablo Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, and the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. She also participated in the commercial recordings of Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 and Schnittke’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with Gidon Kremer and Christoph Eschenbach.

Currently, Ms. Berland is assistant principal of the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra and the Palm Beach Symphony, and she is also a member of the Boca Sinfonia Orchestra. More recently, she has been producing a series of recitals consisting of chamber and solo works through her company, Musica con Animé.

Cornelia Brubeck is one of the most active cellists in the South Florida area and frequently performs in numerous venues, including classical and pops orchestra, opera, musical theater, chamber music and recording sessions.Currently Ms. Brubeck is the principal cellist with the Palm Beach Pops and assistant principal for the Palm Beach Opera. In addition Ms. Brubeck serves as the adjunct professor of cello at the Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. For the past decade she performed with the Atlantic Classical Chamber Orchestra, seven of those years as principal. Ms. Brubeck was the co-founder of the Manchester chamber players, a piano quartet, with whom she toured the states, frequently performed at Carnegie’s Weill Hall and recorded for the Janus and MNF labels. While residing in the northeast, she was a member of the Albany, Vermont and Berkshire symphonies and served on the faculty of the Manchester music festival and green mountain college. Born, raised and educated in Germany, Ms Brubeck now holds a masters degree in cello performance from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana.

Yoko at Carnegie Hall

My Carnegie Hall Recital

I hope your summer is going well. Finally here I am, to give you a report of how my experience of performing at Carnegie Hall went! It took a while because the photos from the performance didn’t come from Carnegie Hall until just a few days ago.

Performing at Carnegie Hall was definitely a milestone in my life. Although it was never my conscious dream to achieve, it certainly gave me an affirmation that I have been on the right path. It truly was a honor and definitely something I will always remember.

Dilip & YokoMy husband and I flew in to New York City on Saturday, the day before the performance. The weather was beautiful to compliment the trip. In my category (college students and professionals), there were five piano solo winners including myself, and two sets of piano duet winners. It was certainly international; some of them flew in from Germany, Italy, Norway, and Czech Republic, solely to perform for the occasion, and meeting and speaking with them was quite inspiring. We each had 15 minutes to perform, with a piece of our choice. I chose a less known piece by Busoni over a well known piece by Liszt, because I wanted to perform something unique. (It turned out that there were so many people played Liszt on the program. I was so glad I didn’t!)

Our recital was at 6:30pm on Sunday, May 21, and the hall was almost full. I had a girlfriend from childhood who lives in New Jersey, four of my former students who now live in New York, and one of Dilip’s adult students from Florida came to see me perform with their family members. Being away from home, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces. It meant a lot and was truly wonderful to have such support!

Compared to some other performances on the program, my piece was rather dark and less flashy but I have absolutely no regrets in choosing the piece. The truth was, I didn’t play to impress people. I just wanted to play for me. I think I stood out in my own way because my piece was so different. Also I was the only one who spoke to the audience! I was very happy to be able to carry out my style of performing on the stage of Carnegie Hall. Overall it was a very beautiful and memorable evening. I wish you all were there to share the special moment!

Now that all the excitement is behind, my life has gone back to normal. I’m continuing to do what I have always been doing; teaching, performing, and PRACTICING! (That’s how I got to Carnegie Hall!) Is there is any difference at all? …Maybe a little invisible feather in my cap!

P.S. I’m in the middle of finalizing my 2017-2018 concert schedule. I’m going to send you a update as soon as it’s finished so please stand by!

As always, I thank you for subscribing.

Yoko Sata Kothari

Florida Weekly – 6/8/2017

How does one get to Carnegie Hall?

Pianist Yoko Sata Kothari has the answer


Yoko Sata Kothari knows how to get to Carnegie Hall.

“Perseverance. That’s the real answer,” Ms. Kothari said by phone from her home in Lake Park.

And you thought it was practice.

Rest assured, she had plenty of that.

But with persistence, you give up just about everything.

After playing the piano for more than four decades, Ms. Kothari finally reached the one goal that had eluded her. On May 1, she learned she won first prize in the 2017 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, which came with an invitation to play at the Winners’ Recitals in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on May 21.

Ms. Kothari, who was born in Tokyo, started playing piano when she was just 4 years old.

“Really, as long as I can remember,” she says.

She remembers her mother pushing her to practice. “I had to earn my time being a child. That was the reward for practicing.”

Yoko Sata Kothari said Carnegie Hall was beautiful, elegant and had perfect acoustics.
But Ms. Kothari says her mother, despite being her biggest fan, never gushed over her accomplishments. “In Asian culture, they don’t tell you ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you.’ You’re just supposed to know.”

Ms. Kothari has had her doubts. And she has often wondered if she chose the right path. “It’s a long time to be on the wrong path,” she laughs, “but I always wanted affirmation. I closed a lot of doors. How do you know if the sacrifices are worth it?”

The invitation to play Carnegie Hall is definitely an affirmation, but she waited a long time to get it. Ms. Kothari knows she’s been lucky and fortunate to follow her dream. Long ago she realized that “there are many people just as talented” as she is, but “Life happened. They got married, or pregnant, or they went after their big school degree, or their parents became ill, and they had to stop playing.”

One sacrifice Ms. Kothari didn’t have to make was staying single. But she married a musician — classical guitarist Dilip Kothari — who understands the lifelong commitment she made to music. Together they run their own music studio in North Palm Beach, where both teach private lessons. Dilip, she says, loves teaching, where “I see the beauty in teaching,” she said. It gives her contact with people, including children, who share her love and passion for the piano, but it also reminds her of one of the sacrifices she did make: Not having children of her own.

Music for a musician, especially a pianist, can be a solitary life and it can get lonely.

“I’m jealous of the cellist, who gets to play with the orchestra, and the people who play in bands.”

And as much as people talk about the importance of balance, Ms. Kothari says, “I don’t know if I can say I have balance.”

Her world can be pretty one-dimensional. Most of it happens from the same point of view: Sitting up straight and looking down at 88 black and white keys.

But Ms. Kothari is not quiet or shy or introverted. She’s funny and gregarious and quick-witted, but most people don’t ever get to know her that way.

“I can’t go out,” Ms. Kothari says. “I can’t afford to, timewise.”

Two hours sipping Chardonnay is two hours of practice time lost.

“Music is worth anything, but it does suck the life out of you,” she says.

But it also enriches you and fulfills you, and that’s what keeps you going, even in your 40s.

Seven other winners performed with Ms. Kothari. Most played recognizable pieces, including two who played Liszt, one of Ms. Kothari’s favorite composers. Instead, Ms. Kothari chose an unfamiliar work by Ferruccio Busoni, called “Fantasia nach J.S. Bach,” or “Fantasy after J.S. Bach,” because it incorporates four of Bach’s hymns.

“I knew all the people would play the flashiest, most technical pieces. I just wanted to play for me. I didn’t feel the need to try to impress anyone. I wanted to play something unique,” Ms. Kothari says. Busoni wrote the piece, which is rather dark, about the death of his father. “It’s about loss and mourning and it’s not played often but I think it deserves to be heard.”

Ms. Kothari said the hall was beautiful, more elegant than most places she’s played, with perfect acoustics for this kind of show. The local weather was beautiful and Ms. Kothari wanted to go sightseeing but instead she went back to the hotel to rest before her performance. Ms. Kothari says she wasn’t any more nervous before this short 15-minute performance than she has been for any other. “I was prepared. I think I stood out in my own way. I didn’t try to be different. I just wanted to be me.”

Ten questions with Yoko Sata Kothari:

How do you sit down and practice when you really don’t want to?

I found the hardest part of practicing is actually making myself sit down physically at the piano bench. Knowing there is usually no problem once I start, I learned simply how to make myself sit down.

How do you handle rejection when you don’t win?

Once my teacher told me, “Don’t let the competition use you, but use the competition to grow instead.” Regardless of the outcome, you improve so much because you work so hard to achieve. I learned to accept and move on once I realized how much I gain from the experience.

What’s the most important characteristic for a successful musician to have?

Discipline. A strong drive. And you have to believe in yourself.

What advice do you have for a young musician?

It is not an easy path, so it is certainly not something I recommend lightly. Be aware how lonely and tough the road is waiting ahead. You will soon know if you are cut out for it or not.

Is this invitation to play at Carnegie Hall the pinnacle of your career? What other moments stand out in your mind as your greatest accomplishments?

Absolutely. To name a few other accomplishments: Winning a second place in the Bartok-Kavalevsky-Prokofiev International Piano Competition, being chosen as a finalist to compete in the Simone Belsky Piano Competition, performing in Italy and receiving a special award for my Bartok performance in the Ibla International Piano Competition.

What do you do to relax, rewind, renew your spirit?

Reading, meditating and traveling with my husband.

Did you have a Plan B if the piano didn’t work out?

No. I knew that music was my path.

Who has been the biggest, or one of the biggest, influence(s) on you in your career?

My mentors, Dr. Roberta Rust and Mr. Phillip Evans. (They both teach at Conservatory of Music at Lynn University in Boca Raton.)

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a pianist?

If I could not succeed as a performer, I knew I could always become an educator.

What is your favorite piece of music to play? Does that change over time?

It would be very difficult to choose a single favorite piece; however, I must say my all-time favorite composer is J.S. Bach. It has not changed for a very long time.

The Palm Beach Post – 5/16/17

Lake Park pianist gave up so much for one goal: play at Carnegie Hall

By Barbara Marshall
May 16, 2017

How do you get to Carnegie Hall at the unlikely age of 47?
Obsessively nurture a dream for decades.

Take a detour around any kind of normal life.

And, oh yeah, practice.

Practice the piano for six hours a day, every day. For tens of thousands of hours over the years. Practice instead of doing almost anything else. Practice until you wear out the felt hammers of your Steinway grand. Practice until your husband finally demands a 2 a.m. curfew so he can sleep, then frequently break it.

That’s the path classical pianist Yoko Sata Kothari, of Lake Park, took to win a piano competition in middle age, which includes the invitation to play a 15-minute solo on Sunday at one of the most famous concert halls in the world.

Two weeks ago, she was informed that she was among five first-place winners of the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, a contest for college-age students and above. The judges commented on her “depth of interpretation, musicality, and technical expertise.”

“I really felt like I finally made it to the top,” said Kothari.

It’s been a long climb.


Yoko Sata Kothari of Lake Park sits next to her piano in the living room of her home Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Kothari has won a major piano competition and will play Carnegie Hall later this month. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post


When she takes the stage in New York on May 21, she’ll be playing where Leonard Bernstein made his conducting debut, where Pablo Casals, Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, even Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan and once, that other Yoko — Yoko Ono — have played.

“Her strengths are fluency, accuracy, a strong rhythmic sense and a lovely tone,” said her mentor and coach, Phillip Evans, a former concert pianist who taught at Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of Music. He recently retired from the Lynn University faculty. “I think it’s a little bit of a long shot, but it’s possible she could have a much bigger career as a result of this contest.”

Making it to Carnegie Hall would be a huge accomplishment for a 14-year-old prodigy or a 23-year-old graduate student. It’s almost unheard of for a middle-aged musician.

The classical music world, it turns out, is almost as ageist as Hollywood.

“In this business, you’re over the hill at 30,” said Kothari, in terms of attracting a promoter to finance a concert tour. “You have to make it (as a concert pianist) by 22 or 23.”

Finally getting past the stage door of Carnegie Hall justifies all the other doors she closed in pursuit of the music she loves. She has no children, very little social life, she rarely goes to parties or out to dinner. She practices so she can perform.

“I ended up being in a life of solitary confinement. I’m glad I teach because otherwise I would have no human contact other than my husband,” said Kothari. “You can call it sacrifice but it is a choice. I might have missed out on things in life but I believed that I would achieve something like this some day.”

Says her husband, Dilip: “Many people can play the (classical piano) repertoire. Yoko is among the few who can perform it.”

Kothari was growing up in Japan when her piano teachers realized she had perfect pitch.

“In the second grade, they realized I could name the keys just by hearing them,” she said.

While she chats at her kitchen table, a beeping car alarm goes off in the neighborhood.

She listens for a moment. “C sharp,” she says.

After winning a Japanese piano competition at age 8, Kothari’s parents bought her a baby grand piano.

“My mother had always wanted to play, but wasn’t able, growing up in Tokyo before World War II,” said Kothari, who said her mother lost her house in a bombing raid during the war.

Kothari sits down at her Steinway, which takes up most of the small living room. The rest is filled with black lacquered Japanese furniture. Her feet have worn a bald spot in the animal hide rug beneath the pedals, which she plays while wearing equally threadbare Japanese slippers.

Her black curly hair obscures her face as she begins the unusual piece she’ll play at Carnegie Hall. “Fantasia” by Ferruccio Bosoni is a 1909 piece by a composer best known for his Bach piano arrangements. His own works are complex, modern and difficult.

“I thought about playing Liszt, but I wanted to play something unique,” she says.

Her hands alternately pound and caress the keys, as somewhat atonal rhythms dance and collide in the air.

“Music is like a novel,” says Kothari. “Sometimes, you need some maturity to understand the author’s true intention. A 16-year-old can play this technically, but to have the understanding of it, you need maturity.”

Kothari’s passion is for performing. After college in Tokyo, Kothari came to the U.S. at age 24, hoping to find more performance opportunities than were available in Japan. She chose Palm Beach County because she had a friend living in Wellington.

She applied for a teaching job at a music school that Dilip Kothari, a classical guitarist, had opened in North Palm Beach.

“The first time she came to the studio, I was taken by her,” said Dilip, an Ohio native. “She was beautiful. Then I heard her play and that was it. I was actually shocked that she would go out with me.”

They married within the year. Their school is now called “D&Y Music Studios.”

When Dilip, an avid outdoorsman, resumed his big-game hunting and fishing trips around the world, Yoko had uninterrupted time to practice.

“I’m married to two loves: Dil and my piano,” she says. “I’m a terrible wife. I don’t cook, I don’t clean. I don’t do any wifelike things.”

Dilip says he doesn’t care. “Being a professional musician myself, I know the sacrifice and the investment in time it takes to achieve that level of play,” he said. “I think it’s a dream of every musician to play someplace as prestigious as Carnegie Hall, especially in a solo performance. She’s worked so hard, she deserves it.”

South Florida classical music fans know Yoko from her solo performances as well as appearances with the Boca String Quartet, the Lotus Duo and Trillium Piano Trio. She frequently plays in Japan and has performed in China and Italy.

Each summer, she creates an inventive solo program for the next season around a single theme.

One year, it was “The Weather Forecast” that included Beethoven’s “The Tempest” piano sonata and “The Last Rose of Summer” by Mendelssohn. Another year, her theme was “Go Green,” filled with piano pieces devoted to nature.

She introduces each piece with a little talk and always includes familiar pieces entwined with something most audiences have never heard.

“I’m here to help the audience to experience this beautiful work, I’m just a tool. I have the gift to be the bridge between composers and an audience,” Kothari says.

She’s weirdly calm about playing her 15-minute solo at Carnegie Hall. The other, mostly far younger, first-place winners asked about practice rooms. Not her.

“I know this piece. If I can’t play it, it’s not because I don’t know it, it’s because of here,” she says, her hands on her temples.

She’s recorded four well-received CDs at Saturn Sound studios in downtown West Palm Beach.

She’s also been a finalist in other prestigious competitions, including ones in which everyone else had a doctorate in music except her. This first-place award is a sign that her years of dedication — and frustration — were not in vain, as she sometimes suspected.

“People who choose this path are either destined or delusional; I just didn’t want to be delusional,” she said.

Her mentor, Evans, once listened to her play Ravel’s “La Valse,” a notoriously difficult work. Afterward, she remembers him saying, with amazement, “Yoko, do you know how few people can play at this level?”

“After that, I thought, ‘OK, maybe I’m not delusional. Maybe I am good enough,’” she said.

Good enough, finally, for Carnegie Hall.

On her four CDs, Yoko Sata Kothari plays Bach, Chopin, Ravel, Beethoven and Liszt. They’re available at the Kothari’s D&Y Music Studios in North Palm Beach, as well as Barnes & Nobles, Chafin Music in Lake Worth and on Amazon.

Tropicult 2/28/17


Norton continues to provide an artistic beacon, showcasing Kothari’s beauty of the classical craft

By Jenelle Deguzman
February 28, 2017

There is a reason there is silence in art museums.

The whispered, hushed tones of meaning that come from patrons as you walk past your favorite painting, be it a Renaissance portrait, or modern abstract sculptures. The same reason the overhead air conditioning is so prevalent, the echoes of high-heels and boat shoes across the most likely, wooden flooring.It’s because, like a church of your choosing, or even a tranquil environment if you don’t believe in religion, is sacred.

It’s an intimate bastion where your soul can be replenished, in both the eyes, body, and mind. In modernized words, it is the original “app store”.

Writers block? Look at this Jenny Holzer display of text. Can’t get the image out of your marble? Behold Renaissance era busts. Paintbrush stuck in the acrylic and you want to throw the brushes in the air? There’s a Van Gogh for that.

It is a place of wonder and for those smaller cities where the district isn’t afforded many opportunities but you can feel the art surging from the cracks in the pavement, it is Oz. A magical land for the Dorothy’s who want to break out of the norm, and want to walk the Yellow Brick Roads of art.

The Emerald City glistening in the fair distance, is the Norton Museum of Art; and though it is currently under construction to further its expanse, it is still glowing.

Swap the emerald green for those familiar white halls, where it’s ongoing series “Live! At the Norton” is helping another form of art that is passionate, pure and not often given the spotlight nor universal hospitality it deserves: classical.

A genre holding hundreds of branches in it, with composers such as Vivaldi, Brahms, and Bach amongst others, with compositions created with as much meticulous care as Michelangelo.

But the thing overlooked more than anything else, are the stories that are hidden in the compositions themselves. The mini-opera like tales that range anywhere from Shakespearean like theatrics to the deeply personal that touch your soul, all written in a language of notes and chords.

The poets and storytellers of this art form help to not only tell their stories to new generations but also weave in new threads to study and awe at, the Wizard giving magnificence and hope to the masses.


It is without a doubt that Yoko Sata Kothari is one of these musical magicians, demonstrating a regality in her playing, as well as wanting to further education in her program, “Family Ties: Mother, Father, Brother & More!”, showing not just the mastery of the art, but the depth of storytelling in them.

After Thanking the crowd for spending their Sunday at the performance, her love for the genre shows in her selection, saying she looks at her program “like a five-course menu at a restaurant. I started out with something light, like an appetizer. Then I go into soup and salad, the main course and then, of course, dessert.”.

Opening with the full version of Brahms infamous Lullaby, which Kothari shared was not dedicated to his own child, but his friends, it was a beautiful appetizer to what was to come.

The choice of works to highlight each subject were not only perfect for the program, but emotionally breathtaking. Bach’s swooping programmatic “Capriccio On The Departure of the Beloved Brother, BWV 992”, which Kothari shared was the only known surviving instrumental piece by the musician, highlighted the complicated emotions of Bach’s older brother leaving for Sweden, as she also described the meaning and intricacies of the 6 pieces, ranging from the family asking him not to leave, going so far as warning of dangers, the eventual realization of leaving and ending on the unique 6th piece, an imitation of the horn of the postillion in which the brother leaves.

The Family meaning of the piece continued in Feruccio Busoni’s Fantasia, dedicated to his Father who passed away. The deeply moving and deep pieces painted pictures that we are used to in an opposite sense, where the music highlights the film scenes it’s most often associated with. In it, Kothari’s attention to detail continues in her playing, where you can feel the rumble of the Father’s low voice in the deeper octaves, and the depths of sorrow and mourning in her beautiful touches of the Steinway & Sons keys.

It is the small details that make up the beauty of the genre, and their meaning.

It is here that it’s important to point out the depth and extent of how much classical music has influenced other genres. In the earlier Bach piece, you feel small touches of jazz, and in opus like forms both in the above piece and the following composition “About Mother: Op. 28” by the lesser known composer, Josef Suk (which also comes with a bit of drama as violin trained Suk wrote it about his wife & mother to his child, who was also the daughter of his own mentor and teacher), which range from the more familiarized light twinkles to swooping film like scores.There is unparalleled emotion in pieces like these, and they aren’t limited to piano. We see them in violin, cello, flute, and even guitar, where it can be argued that post-rock is the modernization of classical music.

The art can only be fully executed by those who have an equivalent love for it.Kothari’s playing is both elegant and masterful, each touch or press of the keys bouncing off the walls with such perfection, it feels as if you’re listening to a record.

Moreover, Kothari makes it look not just easy, but possible. Piano prodigies and classically trained children and adults are responsible for the gold dust that helps to keep the power of the genre alive, but it is Kothari’s open playing and accessibility that makes every note soar around the room, and inspires you to not just think but believe that you can play too. That it isn’t limited to the public’s view of aristocracy and diamonds and pearls that so many associates the genre with, but that even a kid who might not have as much or have a baby grand, can learn, play and love classical music just the same. And it is that element that is not only so essential, vital, to keeping the genre and beauty of classical music and the work of composers alive.

Kothari was eager to share her dessert throughout the performance, and rightly so. It is here that I must add as a viewer and writer, that I often wish I could post the audio from concerts, as they are sometimes too beautiful to describe. Kothari’s performance of Korean composer, Han, and his variation on “Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)”. While not only requiring dexterity, also requires immense prowess, which she most definitely has.The piece feels like a Space Mountain speed like ride throughout musical history, crescendoing from jazz, to classical, to blues and back, highlighting not only the similarities throughout all of music’s many forms, but the togetherness of it all.

As Kothari masterfully finished the piece to a standing ovation, she gave another treat, an encore dedicated to Grandfathers. The Auld Lang Syne like melody was touching, as once again, she painted pictures with every note, photographs and polaroids of daughters, sons, and grandchildren with those we often seek wisdom from.

It’s perhaps poignant, as the classical genre is the Grandfather Willow of music, the first piece and seed of all the other branches. It now, more than ever, needs gardeners to help keep it alive, and grow it even further in a future made unsure by orange weeds.

And Kothari is not only a gardener, but a groundskeeper. And it was nothing short of a thrill to see her bloom.

Florida Today – 01/09/13

yoko352Dance the night away

by Maria Sonnenberg
January 9, 2013

Dances – classic to folk – are the focus of pianist Yoko Sata Kothari‘s concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Atlantic Music Center, 25 S. Wickham Road, Melbourne.

Kothari and the keyboard are old friends. By age 8, she had already nabbed first prize in Northern Japan’s Classical Piano Competition. She has continued with a winning streak that includes the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition in New York. A familiar concert figure in Palm Beach County, she has performed with the Boca String Quartet and the Trillium Piano Trio.

The program includes mazurkas by Chopan, Stravinsky’s Petrouchka Suite and Suite for Piano, Op. 90, by Saint-Saens.

Tickets are $27 for adults and $20 for students.

Palm Beach Arts Paper – 10/10/12

trillium476Trillium kicks off St. Paul’s series

By Greg Stepanich
October 10, 2012

As it has done now for several seasons, the Trillium Piano Trio of Jupiter opened the new season of concerts at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and this year brought along a good piece of fresh repertoire to deepen its offerings.

The Piano Trio of the Swiss composer Frank Martin, written in 1925, is based, as its subtitle says, on Irish folksongs, and Martin made a serious, sinewy piece out of the tunes. The trio – pianist Yoko Sata Kothari, violinist Ruby Berland and cellist Benjamin Salsbury – gave a decent account of the piece, helping to acquaint the rather large concert audience with a worthy work of early 20th-century modernism.

Standing out in this performance were Salsbury’s solo work at the beginning of the second movement, which showed off his dark, warm sound, and the overall high spirits and rhythmic infectiousness of the third movement, a vigorous jig. But while it was an effective, engaging reading overall, it lacked a certain lived-in quality that would have allowed some more contrast and drama. The church itself doesn’t offer a lot of reverb, which would help, but the work is written in definable sections, and they needed to be set off with greater light and shade.

The concert opened with the lone, and late, Piano Trio (Op. 120) from 1923 of Gabriel Fauré, which like all this master’s late works has an elusive, refined character that can be hard to bring off despite the beauty of Fauré’s first-rate melodic gift, much in evidence here. Kothari opened the work with gentleness and mystery, and solo passages from Berland and Salsbury were deeply Romantic and evocative.

The end of the second movement, which begins with simple chords like one of Fauré’s songs, climaxes in an intense dialogue between violin and cello that needs a tight focus by both players to make narrative sense. It was somewhat aimless in this performance, though interesting; a stronger sense of dramatic line would have helped. The finale is difficult to bring off, composed as it is of a dramatic string motif that reminds everyone of Pagliacci (a coincidence, Fauré said), and a jumpy, skittish piano motif that contrasts starkly with it. Kothari did a good job of bringing it out, and the movement came off effectively.

The concert closed with the second of Mendelssohn’s piano trios (in C minor, Op. 66). It’s a beautiful, underrated work, even with its secure repertory status. The tense opening theme is stated in unison by violin and cello after the piano entrance, but Berland and Salsbury were not in tune with each other, which spoiled the effect. The rest of the movement had strength and drive, which helped make up for it, and Kothari had clearly worked hard to bring off her cascading solo figures in the middle.

The second movement had a swift kind of lightness despite its Andante espressivo marking, which is more in keeping with older practice and fits the music better. All three players brought plenty of prettiness to this music’s long melodic outpouring without overdoing it, which was refreshing. The exciting scherzo was taken a nice brisk clip that didn’t flag, much to the musicians’ credit, and the finale was offered in good storm-and-calm style, with plenty of passion for the outer sections and graceful sturdiness for the chorale (which is Mendelssohn’s own, though drawn from Gelobet sei Du, Jesu Christ).

All three of the musicians in the Trillium Piano Trio have considerable ability and experience, and they are to be commended for continuing to pursue this substantial literature. They play with skill and dedication, but they could use some more ensemble time together so they could add more contrast, more shape, and a more organic feel to the ebb and flow of the music. Some more frequent performances, in other words, are in order. And if that happens, the payoff could be handsome.

The Palm Beach Post – 01/15/12

Yoko at the NortonThe scene maker: Pianist loves support for the arts

By Janis Fontaine
January 16, 2012


WHO SHE IS: Kothari began playing piano at age 4. At age 8, she won the Northern Japan Classical Piano Competition. She continued to win top prizes in Japan, and earned more trophies when she moved to the U.S., including second place in the Bartok-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev International Competition and the Kathleen McGowan Piano Scholarship Award. Most recently, she received an award at the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in New York. Kothari has performed with the Boca String Quartet, the Lotus Duo (a piano-violin duo), and currently is a member of the Trillium Piano Trio. She and her husband, Dilip Kothari, a classical guitarist, teach music at D&Y Studios in Lake Park. Her next performance is a benefit concert for the Tepeyak Mission on March 3 at St. Ignatius Loyola Cathedral, 9999 N. Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens.

A few of her favorites:

Favorite fine-dining restaurant?
The Melting Pot. It may take awhile to get through your meal, but the process is so much fun! The cheese fondue and chocolate fondue at the end. It’s not something you do every weekend. It’s more of a special occasion place. You can be there three hours.
The Melting Pot of Palm Beach Gardens, 11811 U.S. 1, Palm Beach Gardens. (561) 624-0020

Favorite theater to see a show?
It has been years since I have seen any shows, but it would be the Kravis Center.
The Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. (561) 832-7469;
Favorite place for a quiet dinner?
A small restaurant on the water called the Dockside Grill. It’s a neighborhood restaurant and it’s kind of hidden. You would never expect someplace like that to be there. It’s very cozy. It’s very personal, and it’s not noisy.
The Dockside Sea Grille, 766 Northlake Blvd., Lake Park. Phone: (561) 842-2180

Favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?
Playing/practicing the piano. It could be frustrating as well, but it is definitely most fulfilling. It’s probably the most effective way to spend the afternoon. I feel most like myself at the piano.

Favorite restaurant to take out-of-town guests?
Ebisu Japanese Restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens. It is the only Japanese restaurant I go to in this area. I almost always order tuna quesadilla. I think the concept is brilliant. The owner came up with the idea. It’s raw tuna and vegetables in a tortilla.
Ebisu, 7100 Fairway Drive, Palm Beach Gardens. Phone: (561) 622-4495

Favorite boutique or store for browsing or buying?
Pretty much only time I can shop is when I am on vacation since my performing and teaching schedule doesn’t allow me to go out much in my daily life. When I do, Barnes & Noble is one of my favorites.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 11380 Legacy Ave., Palm Beach Gardens. Phone: (561) 625-3932

Why you love living in Palm Beach County?
Because here we have a strong community which supports the arts. I feel that there is a culture established by the people who love and appreciate both music and art in this county, which produces the performing opportunities for the artists. If there is no audience, there will be no performances. Having the support from the people is the only way for us (artists) to exist, and it lets us simply be who we are.

The Palm Beach Post – 11/18/11

Music at the Norton: The Norton Museum of Art hosts a small, occasional music series that continues Sunday, Nov. 20, at 3 p.m. with the Japanese-born pianist Yoko Sata Kothari

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yoko Sata KothariThe Lake Park resident and Tokyo native is a familiar concert figure in Palm Beach County, where she plays solo concerts, anchors the Trillium Piano Trio and operates a music studio with her husband, guitarist Dilip Kothari.

For her concert this weekend, Yoko Kothari will play works by French and Russian composers. Transcriptions of Gabriel Faure’s Pavane and Sicilienne will share the French part of the program with four etudes by Camille Saint-Saens (from his Op. 111). She’ll follow that with the Toccata (Op. 11) of Sergei Prokofiev and the 1931 revision of Rachmaninov’s Sonata No. 2 (in B-flat minor, Op. 35).

“I wanted to play Rachmaninov and I didn’t want to play the etudes-tableaux or the preludes,” she said, referring to the composer’s smaller pieces. “Then this caught my eye. But I wasn’t aware how difficult it was.”

She’s chosen the shorter, leaner version of the sonata for the Norton program, which will run about an hour. The concert in the museum’s auditorium begins at 3 p.m. and admission is $5. Entrance to the museum is $12. Tickets for the concert are available at the Visitor Services Desk.

Palm Beach Arts Paper – 09/17/10

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yoko Sata KothariMusic: The classical music season in Palm Beach County gets under way this weekend with the first concert in the 23rd season of performances at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Delray Beach on Sunday afternoon. Up first in the series – which will include appearances by the church’s own Camerata del Re in music from the French and German Baroque traditions, as well as Paris-based Fuoco e Cenere in early music from Italy – is the Trillium Piano Trio. Pianist Yoko Sata Kothari, violinist Ruby Berlund and cellist Benjamin Salsbury will perform the Trio in C of Gaspar Cassado, the Trio No. 3 (in G minor, Op. 110) of Robert Schumann, and a rarity, the Trio quasi una ballata (in D minor, Op. 27) by the Czech composer Vitezslav Novak (1870-1949). Novak’s trio, written in 1902, is considered one of the most important piano trios in Czech music, but it’s almost never heard in this country, and so this concert offers listeners a good way to get acquainted with an important but overlooked master. The concert begins at 4 p.m., and tickets are $15-$18. Call 278-6003 for more information, or visit