Sayuri Kubota falls in love with British Columbia

It was a trip to British Columbia in the early 1990s that captivated teacher and pianist Sayuri Kubota.

"All the nature and the people – I thought this was a very nice," she said. 

Kubota, who was 27 at the time, was visiting Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Rocky Mountains from Japan and began to fall for the natural charm of the province.

“I came as a tourist for the first time to Canada. I just felt like time was moving very slowly compared to the big city because I am from Tokyo,” she said.

She was left as such a positive impression of British Columbia that she returned a year later on a working visa and never went home.

“I decided to try out living here for one year and since then I've stayed,” Kubota said.

On Saturday (Feb. 1) Kubota will be holding an Italian-themed piano recital at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. All proceeds from the recital will go directly toward the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music.

“I usually have an annual recital,” Kubota said. “This year I'm playing the theme of Italy. So, I play some pieces composed by various composers from Italy. The proceeds go to the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music.”

Kubota's previous recitals have typically had a Japanese theme, but this year she decided to change things up.

“My favourite is romantic music, usually from Japan,” she said. “This year I wanted to increase my repertoire by doing a different type of music. I had never played compositions from Italy.”

“I am probably going to do other countries in the near future,” she added.

Kubota began playing and receiving piano lessons when she was 4-years-old. When she reached the age of 10 her piano teacher asked her a very important question.

“My piano teacher asked me if I wanted to become a professional piano player and if I become a professional pianist she has to train me towards that,” Kubota said. “At the time she said making a living as a professional pianist is very difficult and unless you're in the top group in the world.”

Her piano teacher then recommended that she consider taking up another profession due to the instability of the industry.

“She asked me if I had another profession that I wanted to go in and back then I was a very academic student, so I wanted to be a teacher or a doctor,” Kubota said.

Kubota heeded the advice of her piano teacher and eventually became a math teacher. She continued to play the piano as a hobby until 1992, when she made the 7,000-kilometre move from Japan.

“When I came to Canada I didn't have a piano,” she said. “For about 10 years I didn't have a piano.”

It wasn't until around 2004 when Kubota, who continued teaching, began to feel a sense of emptiness.

“I felt I had something missing in my life,” she said. “So that's how I went back to piano.”

Kubota began taking piano lessons under Teresa Marusarz-Borek and has since participated in master classes alongside respected pianists Krzysztof Jablonski, Anton Kuerti and Janina Fialkowska.

In the summer of 2009, Kubota participated in the Rocky Mountain Amateur Piano Contest in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It was eye opening,” Kubota said about the competition. “The level of competition was much higher than I thought.”

Although Kubota was only in Colorado Springs for a short time, she said the trip was a great experience for her.

“I met some many good amateur pianists,” she said. “It was inspiring me to continue to play piano as an amateur.”

Sayuri Kutoba performs at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church on Saturday (Feb. 1) at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation.







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