Ray Ushikubo has made his solo orchestral debut at age ten with the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra. Since then he has soloed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic, and other highly respectable organizations. He has already performed on some of the most amazing American concert halls including Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Ray Ushikubo is the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Davidson Fellow Laureate Award, the 2016 Piano Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where he soloed with the Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, and the 2017 Hilton Head International Piano Competition.
Thanks for taking the time to have this interview together.
What do you make of your fantastic artistic and personal journey so far, still at the young age of 17 or 18?
It has been a journey of hard work and ups and downs. The only way I can truly be happy is by becoming who I want to be, and that requires a lot of practice. Ultimately, every time I go up on the stage, I feel alive. My personal life has defined my musical artistry. What does music mean to you?
Music is my way of expressing myself. Without music, I would not be complete. Music is a part of me, and it is something I would never want to lose.
How do you feel about the role of music in communities and the world at large?
Music has the power to bring people together. It has the ability to make the audience feel something that only that music can provoke. It is a way for people to understand each other and make the world a happier place. Are there any differences between Ray the piano man and Ray the violinist extraordinaire?
No difference. One man. What are the works you love most for piano and violin? On the violin, I love Wieniawski Concerto No. 1, and on the piano, I love Rachmaninov Concerto No. 2. What does a normal day look like and sound like when you are Ray Ushikubo?
Practice piano, do homework, practice violin, eat, repeat.
Who are some contemporary musicians whose works or performances you enjoy most?
As for living musicians, I love Pinchas Zukerman and Shlomo Mintz on the violin and Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the piano.
Feel free to share with us your favorite heavy metal numbers, too.
My favorite heavy metal bands are Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Metallica, Megadeth, and Rainbow.
Who do you consider your mentors?
My current teachers at the Curtis Institute of Music and my previous teachers at the Colburn School have been the most influential mentors for me. They have helped me search and find the musical style that I intend to make my signature quality.
Who are the artists whose artistic lives you see as models for your own artistic path?
Jascha Heifetz, Arthur Rubinstein, Aaron Rosand, Gary Graffman.
What events are you looking forward to in the weeks and months ahead?
I am looking forward to spending my fourth consecutive summer at the Aspen Music Festival.
Do you ever get bored or distracted?
How do you get back to your normal mode?
I headbang to some heavy metal music and let some stress out and then get back to work.
What good action movie have you watched lately?
I just watched John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (twice). I find it to be one of the greatest action-packed movies of this century.
It’s a good day as long as … I follow my daily schedule.
What matters the most is for me to become the musician that I aspire to be and by doing so, make this world a happier place with my music.