Spotlight on... ONODA Arisa, Japanese pianist

On Friday 9 April, the Embassy presented the 11th edition of our Green Park Youth Concert Series. Talented pianist ONODA Arisa performed sensitive and yet powerful renditions of works by YOSHIMATSU Takashi and Frédéric Chopin. For the very first time, the Green Park Youth Concert was presented in full online from the Ballroom of the Embassy. The series continues to provide a platform for young Japanese musicians who are undertaking their studies at renowned conservatoires across the UK.

Watch the concert in full:

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Following her performance, we asked Arisa a few questions on her music inspirations and background.

Why did you choose to perform pieces by Yoshimatsu and Chopin for this Green Park Youth Concert?
A year has passed since the pandemic began. During this time, we couldn’t meet the people we love and care about, and I feel like time has been frozen. Especially in Japan, spring is a beautiful season, when we start new school years, new jobs and meet new people but the virus threatened all of this. During the last year, I became more aware of how much I care about my family and friends, even more strongly than before and there were many times when sad news broke my heart. Also, 10 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake. I made this programme with these emotions in mind and I hope that stalled dreams and frozen time will begin to move again for everyone after these difficulties. I would like to show through this programme that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Why did you choose to play the piano?
I started playing the piano when I was two years old and I have been playing it almost my entire life. Every time I get depressed, get hurt, and feel lonely, the sound of the piano saves me and I feel that there is a place where I belong. I think it is because I can express through music what words cannot. Also, how lucky I am that there are people who listen to and enjoy my music, and I can connect with them through music no matter what their nationalities and cultural backgrounds are. It is an incredible thing to play the piano.

Why do you like Chopin’s music?
Chopin’s music is very special to me and it always stays close to my heart. It is quite hard to explain the reasons why I like his music so much but I think it is because I feel empathy with his music and his life. Also, I believe I have similarities with his characters. His music is not like an expression of emotions to a vast audience but I feel it speaks to each individual listener and for me that is very special. Also, it is incredible that his music converts a mechanical instrument into human voice.

How have you spent your time during the pandemic?
Most of my concerts were postponed which was very disappointing but I had the time to deepen my understanding of each composer and their work. I am now reading a collection of Chopin’s existing letters, which is more than 2000 pages in total. As I could not return to London until only recently because of the travel restrictions, I enjoyed spending time with my family in Japan.

Outside of rehearsing or performing, what do you do in your spare time?
Apart from playing the piano, I enjoy reading, watching movies and going to museums. But I think all of my activities somehow influence my playing because I get inspiration from everyday life.

What are your future goals?
It would be wonderful if I could perform around the world and work with people I hold in high regard. It would be amazing if I could play for people who haven’t listened to the piano or classical music before. And one of my big dreams is to play the piano in ‘the space’.