Cicilia Yudha, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?

My mom, a piano teacher, taught me how to play when I was about three years old and enrolled me in group lessons at the Yamaha Music School. When I was growing up, she taught privately at home and both my older brothers also played. My father, a lover of classical music, had a large collection of records, CD’s, and laser discs. So, although I did not have much exposure to great live music, I was fortunate to be able to hear and watch some of those great performances at home. I was constantly surrounded with music. I always thought I could express myself at the piano where words failed.

At age thirteen, I was accepted to study with a prominent Indonesian pianist, Iravati Sudiarso, a pupil of Leon Fleisher. She inspired me to be a concert pianist. I am fortunate that my vocation as a musician called me when I was at a formative age and that I was also able to receive great training and education in the US.

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?

The artist, teacher and scholar Leonard Bernstein and El Sistema movement in Venezuela influence me greatly as an artist with a vision.

I believe that music is a powerful source that can promote social changes.

My passion to share the beauty of music led me to my career as both a performer and educator.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Many people still regard classical music as entertainment only. They think classical music is too serious and often puts them to sleep. My mission is not only to entertain but also to contribute positively to the community through music and music education.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

The CD on selected works by Casadesus, and Dutilleux is my debut performance! I’m quite humbled by the experience and I am thankful for its outcome.

From this recording, I especially like Dutilleux’s Blackbird, his set of 6 pieces, Au Gré des Ondes, and also the “Lento e tristamente” movement of the Casadesus Sonata No. 3, Op. 44.

Which particular works do you think you perform best?

Romantic works – particularly by Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms. Also, French works – such as those by Debussy, Ravel, Casadesus, and Dutilleux.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Mostly by variety. Sometimes I connect it to a theme, such as “Homage to Vienna” or “Happy Birthday, J.S. Bach.” It does not mean the concert program consists of works by only one composer but how that theme connects the composers and pieces together. I love performing the standard canon of piano repertoire and I relish the opportunity to learn new compositions or works by lesser known composers. The last few years, I have also enjoyed exploring various chamber music literature.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

I wish I have played in more venues around the world to give this question a good answer!

When I was a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I played in Severance Hall a few times. The acoustic of this great hall is gorgeous. The marvellous history of great performances in that space is awe-inspiring.

I also like performing in smaller concert spaces or a musical salon-situation. I love the intimate connection between the composers, me and the piano as the medium, and the audience.

Who are your favourite musicians?

Leon Fleisher, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Murray Perahia, Krystian Zimerman, Martha Argerich, Steven Isserlis, Thomas Quasthoff, to name a few.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Performing Saint-Saens G Minor Piano Concerto as part of the “Education Concert Series” with the Cleveland Orchestra in Severance Hall.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

While the printed score is in two-dimensional black and white, music is a living language. As musicians, we must bring the notes to life and express the music as a colorful, three-dimensional world.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Vienna, Austria or Florence,

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sharing the beauty of nature and the arts with loved ones

What is your most treasured possession?

Good health

What is your present state of mind?


Sound files available here

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