Interview: Shuhei Aoshima - Impressions of the Recital and Memories from Takamatsu

2024.01.26104 views

We interviewed pianist Mr. Shuhei Aoshima, who performed at the "Kawai Premium Concert" held at Bellesalle Toranomon (Minato-ku, Tokyo) on November 5, 2023, after the concert. This concert was held by inviting seven pianists who participated in the 5th Takamatsu International Piano Competition.

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Adding Scriabin's Pieces to Repertoire

Let's reflect on today's recital featuring participants from the Takamatsu International Piano Competition. Could you share your thoughts on the performance?

Initially, Scriabin's pieces were not part of my repertoire, but I challenged myself with them over the past six months. I chose the combination of an early poem and the unconventional Sonata No. 5 because I really like the contrast. I wanted to perform it in front of the audience today.

The hall, equipped with a Shigeru Kawai SK-EX grand piano, has a relatively flat layout, yet the reverberation is impressive. Even after the audience filled the hall, I could feel the resonance on stage, making it very easy to play. Especially for Scriabin, where layering of sound is crucial, I could sense the reverberation while playing, creating a very comfortable performance.

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 Mr. Aoshima playing Shigeru Kawai SK-EX

 

Interaction with Same-generation Pianists

It's been over six months since the Takamatsu International Piano Competition. Looking back, could you share any memorable experiences?

Participating in such a significant international competition for the first time was challenging, and just completing it was an achievement. The period before the third round was the most tiring. It was an extremely long competition, requiring constant focus and physical stamina.

On the other hand, it was a great experience for me to interact with various contestants. I usually study abroad and don't often have the chance to interact with many Japanese peers, so it was a great time to hear various stories about their respective study-abroad destinations, which was very refreshing and stimulating.

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Kawai Premium Concert performers
Front row from the left: Kaho Araishi, Momoko Mizutani and Miki Yamagata
Back row from the left: Shu Umezaki, Yuya Nishimoto, Motohiro Sato and Shuhei Aoshima

 

Impact of Competition and Changes

After achieving the 2nd place, how was the response and what changes did you notice?

It seems that quite a few people saw the streaming video of the competition, and I received comments on social media, even from people in regions I had little connection with before. The influence of the competition and the impact of streaming surprised me. I received messages from people in Shikoku region, among others, and I'm grateful for that.

In terms of personal changes, preparing for such a large program for the first time left me with valuable experiences. I learned how to adjust and prepare before the performance, understanding the mental and physical aspects. This has made it much easier for me to prepare for other competitions, performances, and recitals.

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At the outside of the venue

 

Life in France and Relaxation

You're currently studying in France. Could you tell us about your daily life and relaxation methods?

This is my fifth year studying abroad, and I am more comfortable with my French now than before.  I am a little worried about the security situation because it is not so safe these days, but Paris is still as bustling and lively as it used to be before the coronavirus. Going to marché on Sundays provides me with energy, serving as a break to relax and unwind.

How do you usually relax?

I love watching sports, especially soccer. When I am in Japan, I also watch baseball. Sports provide an outlet for my emotions, offering a much-needed break from intense piano practice. Practicing the piano can get a little stressful, so I sometimes forget about the music and spend a lot of time playing sports, which is a great way to relax. I don't have many opportunities to watch live games, but I usually watch them on a streaming app, cheer as hard as I can, and in that moment I don't think about anything else. I also enjoy taking casual walks and going out for drinks with friends.

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At a restaurant in France

 

Friendship with Shu Umezaki

You seem to have a close friendship with Mr. Shu Umezaki, who performed in today's recital.

Yes, that's right. We first spoke during the Takamatsu International Piano Competition. We went out for ramen in Takamatsu and shared many meals together. We also attended the same seminars, and he has been very friendly. He is currently studying in Moscow, so when he has something to do in Europe, he comes to Paris for a while and we hang out together.

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Mr. Aoshima and Mr. Umezaki

 

Future Goals and Activities

Lastly, could you share your future goals and plans?

I am currently in my second year of the master's program, working on my thesis. I need to write it in French, and that is one of the challenges for me this year. Additionally, being in Europe, I would like to continue challenging myself in various international piano competitions. If the opportunity arises, I would be delighted to perform concerts not only in Japan but also in France, and I hope to reach audiences around the world. I am determined to put in effort in competitions to make these activities possible in the future.

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Mr. Aoshima at France

 

About Shuhei Aoshima

Graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Faculty of Music, Attached High School, and subsequently completed the undergraduate program at the same university. Currently enrolled in the Piano, Accompaniment, and Musical Writing departments at the Conservatoire de Paris. He was awarded the 2nd Prize and the Special Prize for the Best Performance of Commissioned Piece at the 5th Takamatsu International Piano Competition, and the 6th Prize and the Zen-On Award at the 2nd Shigeru Kawai International Piano Competition. He also won the Grand Prize and the Kanagawa Newspaper President's Prize in the High School Division of the 32nd Kanagawa Music Competition.

In 2019, he performed a solo concert at the Kawai Chopin Festival and participated in chamber music at La Folle Journée. He has collaborated with orchestras such as the Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra, Geidai Philharmonia Orchestra,Tokyo, and Seto Philharmonic Orchestra. Throughout his musical journey, he has received guidance from notable figures such as Nobuko Nakamura, Yasutaka Goto, Kimihiko Kitajima, Yukio Yokoyama, and Susumu Aoyagi. Currently, he studies the piano with Frank Braley and Haruko Ueda, accompaniment with Jean-Marie COTTET, and harmony with Henry Yves. In 2023, he was selected as an overseas music trainee by the Meiji Yasuda Quality of Life Cultural Foundation.

X (Twitter) : @syu_pf15

 

*This article was prepared based on interviews conducted on November 5, 2023.

Writer

Kawai Japan (Domestic division)

This article has been translated from a piece published on the Kawai Japan website.

This article has been translated from a piece published on the Kawai Japan website.

Kawai is a Japanese musical instrument manufacturer founded in 1927,
renowned for its acclaimed acoustic and digital pianos.

Kawai is a Japanese musical instrument manufacturer founded in 1927, renowned for its acclaimed acoustic and digital pianos.

For almost 100 years, Kawai has delivered thousands of pianos to musicians around the world.
Kawai instruments are highly regarded and cherished by many pianists,
and frequently selected in international competitions and concerts.
The company's vision is to "share the joy of music and create emotional connections."
This heartfelt desire stems from Kawai’s long history of crafting musical instruments
and promoting music appreciation.

For almost 100 years, Kawai has delivered thousands of pianos to musicians around the world. Kawai instruments are highly regarded and cherished by many pianists, and frequently selected in international competitions and concerts.
The company's vision is to "share the joy of music and create emotional connections." This heartfelt desire stems from Kawai’s long history of crafting musical instruments and promoting music appreciation.

Kawai company information