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Ray Ushikubo

Known for his “disciplined focus and clarity… and marvelous dynamic nuance,” (Arts Knoxville) Ray Ushikubo is a twenty-one-year-old Japanese-American pianist and violinist who has performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall and Walt Disney Concert Hall, and appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Ray made his orchestral debut at age ten with the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra in Los Angeles’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 alongside conductor Teddy Abrams. A recipient of the prestigious Davidson Fellow Laureate Award in 2014, Ushikubo was named a Young Steinway Artist and won the 2017 Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the 2016 Piano Concerto Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Ushikubo was featured as a Young Artist-in-Residence of the national radio broadcast Performance Today with host Fred Child and he has been featured on NPR’s From the Top where he was named a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist.

Engagements in the 2023-24 season include performances of Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm for both violin and piano with the Florida Orchestra led by conductor John Morris Russell, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with both Oregon Symphony and Winston Salem Symphony, and Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Saraste’s Zigeunerweisen with Symphonicity and conductor Daniel Boothe. Recently, Ushikubo performed Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Kansas City Symphony and conductor Thomas Wilkins; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Hilton Head Symphony and conductor Michelle Merrill; Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with the Reno Philharmonic and conductor Laura Jackson; recorded Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra led by Rafael Payare; performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Buffalo Philharmonic and JoAnn Falletta; and the was the violin soloist of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Pasadena Symphony. Additionally, Ushikubo has soloed with the Fort Collins, Hilton Head, New West, Modesto, Pasadena, and San Diego Symphony Orchestras, as well as the Buffalo, Los Angeles, Reno, Westchester Philharmonic Orchestras on both piano and violin – sometimes in the same concert. Ray has worked with renowned conductors including Paolo Bortolameolli, Laura Jackson, Jeffrey Kahane, Wes Kenney, David Lockington, Sameer Patel, and John Morris Russell and in 2013, Ushikubo performed and conducted from the piano Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 1 with the Academy Virtuosi Orchestra at the Colburn School.

Ushikubo has collaborated with pianist Lang Lang in Orange County’s Segerstrom Concert Hall and with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the international radio broadcast Radio France. He has performed as violin soloist in the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 2014 Gala StradFest, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons alongside violinists Martin Chalifour, Phillipe Quint, and Cho-Liang Lin, and for the opening concert of the 2017 La Jolla Music Society SummerFest with violinist Chee-Yun Kim. He performed as piano soloist at the Los Angeles Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) for a peace ceremony honoring victims of the Hiroshima atomic bomb, which also featured the acclaimed singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. He has appeared as guest artist on Rob Kapilow’s What Makes It Great? at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, on San Diego’s Mainly Mozart Festival series Mozart & the Mind, at the Griffith Observatory as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Immortal Beloved celebration, where he performed Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

Ray also thrives in alternative musical settings. He reunited with the crew of From the Top for a collaboration with Kevin Olusola, member of the Grammy award-winning group Pentatonix. In 2015, he made a special appearance as piano and violin soloist in a concert presented by Grand Performances in Los Angeles featuring traditional classical works alongside jazz pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and electronic musician Daedalus, who “remixed” and improvised around the classical works, crossing the genres of classical, electronic music, and jazz.

Ray received his Bachelor’s degrees at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied piano with Gary Graffman and Robert McDonald and violin with Shmuel Ashkenasi and Pamela Frank. Currently, Ushikubo is enrolled at the Colburn Conservatory of Music pursuing Master of Music degrees where he studies piano with Fabio Bidini and violin with Robert Lipsett.

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