Thomas Mesa - Cello & Ilya Yakushev - Piano
“One of the Top 10 Classical Music Events of the Year” - San Francisco Chronicle
“…little short of heroic” - New York Times
THE 222 brings together two exceptional talents for an evening of mesmerizing musicianship and amazing synergy. The recipients of multiple honors and awards, Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa and Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev are known not only for their extraordinary musical talents but also for their charismatic stage presence and audience rapport. Mesa has appeared in concert from Carnegie Hall to the Supreme Court and Yakushev has performed internationally, including with the SF Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas.
The evening’s program will feature works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Andrea Casarrubios, Astor Piazzolla, Claude Bolling and Sergei Rachmaninoff.
LISTEN / Mesa-Yakushev: Beethoven
LISTEN / Mesa-Yakushev: Rachmaninoff
About the Artists
Thomas Mesa is the recipient of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award (2022), the $50,000 First Prize in the Sphinx Competition (2016) and was a Winner of the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions. He has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and others.
Thomas was soloist on tour in the concerto Dance for a New Day by jazz trumpeter-composer Terence Blanchard. The Sphinx Organization, in conjunction with Carnegie Hall and the New World Symphony, has also commissioned a solo concerto for Mesa, Divided, by Jessie Montgomery touring nationwide in 2022-23.
As an ensemble musician, Mesa toured with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, is a frequent collaborator with the Jupiter Chamber Players, and is the principal cellist of Sphinx Virtuosi. He has performed with renowned musicians Olga Kern, Paul Neubauer, Andres Diaz, Colin Carr, Ani Kavafian, and Timothy Eddy, and toured with Itzhak Perlman both nationally and internationally. Thomas performed with the St. Petersburg String Quartet and Piano Quartet for seven years.
Thomas plays a Nibolò Gagliano cello, c.1750, generously on loan from Rare Violins of New York City.
Winner of the 2005 World Piano Competition in Cincinnati, OH, Ilya Yakushev received his first award at age 12 winning the Young Artists Concerto Competition in his native St. Petersburg. In 1997, he received the Mayor of St. Petersburg’s Young Talents award, and in both 1997 and 1998 won First Prize at the Donostia Hiria International Piano Competition in San Sebastian, Spain. In 1998, he received a national honor, The Award for Excellence in Performance, presented to him by the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation in Moscow. Most recently, Yakushev became a recipient of the prestigious Gawon International Music Society’s Award in Seoul, Korea.
Yakushev’s 2021-22 performance season includes appearances as soloist with the Wisconsin Philharmonic, La Crosse Symphony, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic, as well as recitals in Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Tennessee, Arizona, Maryland, Florida, and Colorado.
Prior performances included Great Philharmonic Hall (St. Petersburg), Victoria Hall (Singapore), Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (New York), Davies Symphony Hall (San Francisco), and Sejong Performing Arts Center (Seoul, Korea) and with orchestra, the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra, Boston Pops, Rochester Philharmonic, and Utah Symphony.
Yakushev attended the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Mannes College of Music in New York, where he studied with legendary pianist Vladimir Feltsman.
In 2014, the British label Nimbus Records released Yakushev's CD, “Prokofiev Sonatas Vol. 1” CD. Volume 2 was published in 2017, along with an all-Russian CD.