March Artist Feature: Akiko Sasaki

This month’s feature artist is Akiko Sasaki. I have known Akiko for more than seven years and I have to say that she is one of the hardest working people I know.

Akiko has so many talents that it almost seems unfair to list them all. Outside of her musical talents as a classical pianist and Japanese koto player, Akiko is a gifted educator. She is also an amazing cook! We have cooked Thanksgiving dinner together for more than six years and I can’t even begin to recall all the meals we have cooked and eaten in the days between.

Since 2009, Akiko has been following a macrobiotic diet and she is currently being certified in the “Master Your Health” program at the Strengthening Health Institute in Philadelphia. Even though Akiko eats in a ridiculously healthy way, here is her weakness: donuts! Her dark secret is out! She loves sweet, fried donuts!!

Akiko has lived in NYC since 2002 when she arrived to pursue a masters at the Manhattan School of Music (granted in 2004). Throughout the years Akiko has pursued many projects but currently her main passions are her private teaching practice and Lyra Music, a three week summer intensive program for young pianists and string players held in Randolph, Vermont. Akiko began Lyra Music in 2010 with her friend and colleague, Mary Prescott. Together they have created a wonderful program that gives young students a life enhancing experience through classical music.

Besides Akiko’s passion for teaching, she is also an incredible performer. I find it astounding how Akiko can manage Lyra and her teaching practice but more amazing is that she is involved in so many performance projects like her piano trio, Trio Cotier with cellist, Alisha Bauer and violinist, Chris Luther; her Japanese music project with opera singer, Sarah Heaton; her Koto quartet with flutist, Yukari, drummer Gerald Cleaver and pianist/husband, Jesse Stacken; and also performing with the Miyabi Koto-Shamisen ensemble. To finally put the icing on this amazing cake, she also co-curates a wonderful house concert series with her husband, Jesse Stacken (more on him in the coming months) called the Beverley Concert Series. (I swear this woman does not sleep!)

This weekend you can catch Akiko’s Lyra Music in action. They will be doing a live streaming music competition for cash prizes and scholarships for students to attend Lyra Summer Music program 2014. Here is the streaming link here
You can also see the competition in person at Shetler Studios in NYC (244 West 54th St, #12). Tickets are $15/$10 students & seniors, at the door.

I only have great things to say about this woman and I admire her to the nth degree. Akiko is an amazing person with fiery passion and determination that get the job done. If you get a chance to see her perform live, please do. You will not be disappointed.

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