Photo credit: Noé Montes/USC Thornton School of Music.
-Mark Swed, LA Times
A unique and versatile cello quintet, hailed as “brilliant” and “superb” by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times, SAKURA is built on the artistry and virtuosity of its members: Michael Kaufman, Benjamin Lash, Yoshika Masuda, Gabriel Martins, and Peter Myers. Drawing from the rich heritage of a repertoire that spans eight centuries, eclectic and unexpected programs are constructed around conceptual threads, with an overarching commitment to opening new vistas of beauty and expression by showcasing the great warmth and scope offered by the sound of five cellos.
Last season's highlights included the West Coast premiere of Olli Mustonen's Triptych for three cellos and a performance of Brett Dean's Twelve Angry Men in Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Piatigorsky International Cello Festival. They were awarded a $5,000 grant from Tarisio to commission five composers (Daniel Allas, Brett Banducci, Derek David, Thomas Kotcheff, and Daniel Silliman) to write quintets to be premiered in 2017. This season, SAKURA performs in Sedona, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Los Angeles and is Young Ensemble in Residence of the Da Camera Society.
The quintet operates as a true chamber ensemble, rehearsing extensively and distilling its interpretations through time, and is named in honor of the great mentor and artist Ralph Kirshbaum, with whom all five members studied: 桜 sakura (Japanese) and Kirschbaum (German) have the same meaning (cherry tree).