Joy Yanai, Cello
Joy Yanai was born in Quebec, Canada, and was raised in Sendai/Ishinomaki, Japan. She began taking cello lessons at the age of 5 in Japan before attending Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, in 2006. She earned her Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Graduate Diploma from the New England Conservatory, where her major teachers included Laurence Lesser, Paul Katz and Lluís Claret.
In 2011, Joy actively joined the Earthquake and Tsunami relief efforts for Japan both with solo recitals in the affected regions as well as performances in collaboration with such artists as Kim Kashkashian, Paul Biss, Laurence Lesser and Masuko Ushioda.
Joy participated in music festivals including Orford Music Academy, Banff Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, Seiji Ozawa Music Academy Opera Project, Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy and Mellon Music Festival. She received First Prize for the New England String Ensemble Concerto Competition in 2009, Third Prize for the Junior String Division in Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in 2010 and Second Prize for New England Conservatory Lower Strings Competition in 2014.
I was born in Quebec, Canada, and was raised in Sendai/Ishinomaki, Japan. Unfortunately, I do not remember anything from my time in Canada, because my family moved back to Japan when I was a baby (although Canada still holds a special place in my heart). After graduating from Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, in 2010, I completed my Bachelor of Music with Laurence Lesser, my Master of Music with Paul Katz and my Graduate Diploma with Lluís Claret at New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts.
What has been your most memorable moment with the orchestra?
Playing Zemlinsky’s Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) in my first concert with the Naples Philharmonic is my most memorable moment. I was honored to share such beautiful and powerfully compelling music (a work I had never heard until I received the sheet music) with everyone in the audience as a member of the orchestra!
What inspired you to become a musician?
My family, especially my mother, inspired me to become a musician. She loves cello sincerely and suggested that I pick up the cello when I was 5 years old. Without my family’s support and patience, it would have been impossible for me to pursue music to the extent that I have. I sometimes wonder what my life might have been like if music was not such a huge part of my life, but I cannot be any happier about where I am and what I am doing here with Artis—Naples.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I love the fact that we perform not only orchestral works, but also chamber music, pops, ballet and opera masterpieces. Though it is challenging for me to learn new repertoire every week, I truly enjoy performing this wide range of music.
What’s challenging about playing your instrument?
I believe all the instruments are equally challenging to master and play with great control. However, I feel strongly that cello is one of the most nerve-wracking instruments to fly with when traveling, as each airlines company has different policies (and it seems many employees are not familiar with their own company’s policies regarding instruments). It would be wonderful if someone could invent a collapsible cello in the near future…
What are your favorite compositions?
Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten and Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 are special pieces to me. The first time I performed these two pieces was at New England Conservatory at the same time as the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. Hearing either of these pieces would always remind me of the heartbreaking time when my family’s home became part of the disaster’s wreckage. Over time, however, they slowly transformed into some of my favorite works and will forever be associated with a time of healing and support.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Cooking and going on walks! Recently, I found that getting some sunlight during the wintertime has become my new hobby. I always spent my winters in gloomy, cold climates before moving to Florida.