Prize-winning pianist headed for symphonic performance
April 22, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( www.lasierra.edu ) Akane Iida practiced the Mozart piano concerto four to six hours a day for nearly three months, challenged in part with small hands that hindered production of a majestic sound on the instrument.
But the intense effort paid off. She rose to the occasion on Feb. 7 with her masterful performance of W.A. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 K414 in A Major, winning first place in the piano division of the Rio Hondo Symphony Association’s 41st Young Artists Competition. The event was held at Whittier College.
Iida’s competition prize included $1,500 cash and an opportunity to solo May 3 during the Rio Hondo Symphony’s 76th Finale concert. The young musician is a native of Japan and a La Sierra University performance certificate student studying with La Sierra’s Director of Keyboard Studies and Music Technology, Elvin Rodriguez.
“The result of this competition was just like a very special gift for me,” Iida said. “Since my hands are very small, always I have struggled to produce a big and rich sound on the piano. To play concertos with the orchestra, soloists are required to have those skills, so this competition was a great challenge for me.”
“Akane is a very hard working student who is exceptionally refined in her performance,” Rodriguez said. “She is the kind of student that comes well-prepared for lessons, often playing the pieces by memory for the lesson. Her level of playing certainly reflects the wonderful training she has had in Japan and at [the University of Southern California].”
Rodriguez remembered watching Iida play last summer in a music competition at the Redlands Bowl amphitheater in Redlands, Calif. The young pianist won the senior division. “Her performance was exquisite from at least two points: musicality and expressive nuance, both things which take many pianists a long time to mature in and develop,” said Rodriguez.
Another Young Artists competitor, flutist Phillip Kim of Los Angeles, took first place in the woodwind division in February. He will also perform on May 3 with the Rio Hondo Symphony.
Iida is a full-scholarship student at La Sierra. She came to the United States in 2006 to pursue a graduate certificate at USC’s Thornton School of Music. While at USC, she met student cellist Yao Wang, a 2006 La Sierra alumnus. Wang encouraged Iida to consider furthering her piano studies at La Sierra once she completed the USC program.
“After his suggestion, I came here to listen to Dr. Rodriguez’s recital and I was really impressed by his playing,” Iida said. “So I decided to study here with him especially as a certificate student, because I wanted to concentrate on performance … to prepare to participate in several international competitions in one to two years. Now I am truly enjoying studying with Dr. Rodriguez. He is a really great teacher.”
Iida began studying the piano with her mother at age 5. She later completed her Bachelor of Music degree at the prestigious Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts in Japan. At USC’s Thornton School she studied as a music merit scholarship student with Antoinette Perry.
Iida’s competitive accomplishments include taking top prizes in the 2008 Sigma Alpha Iota Music Scholarship Competition, the 2008 Redlands Community Music Association Young Artists Auditions and the 2008 JMAC Piano Festival.
Her awards include a scholarship from the Leni Fe Bland Foundation and a Certificate of Outstanding Academic Achievement from USC.
PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University