'Catching the Wave' with Polish-American classical pianist, Lukasz Yoder

Godfrey Johnson (GJ) interviews the exciting young Polish-American classical pianist, Lukasz Yoder (LY) GJ: Very good to meet you. Please ca...

Godfrey Johnson (GJ) interviews the exciting young Polish-American classical pianist, Lukasz Yoder (LY)

GJ: Very good to meet you. Please can you tell us about yourself?

LZ: Hello! My name is Lukasz Yoder, and I am a twenty-year-old Polish-American classical pianist based in Los Angeles. I am a winner of many national and international competitions, and have performed concerts all over the world.  I feel a close affinity for Polish Music such as that of Fryderyk Chopin, and the more contemporary composers including Karol Szymanowski and Grazyna Bacewicz. After acceptances from most major conservatories in the United States including the Juilliard School, I accepted an offer to study with Professor and Concert Pianist Inna Faliks at the Herp Albert School of Music at UCLA on a full scholarship, while continuing to be privately mentored by the great American pianist Garrick Ohlsson. In my free time I enjoy spending time in nature, especially surfing, as well as writing poetry and playing chess.

GJ: What inspired you to become a classical pianist?

LZ: I grew up in a musical family; both of my parents teach piano, and my mother was my first piano teacher, teaching me from when I was four till 18. She continues to mentor me to this day. Both of my brothers play piano as well. As such I suppose my inspiration would be the rich musical family environment I grew up in.

GJ: More and more young people are being drawn to classical musical and the performance thereof. Why do you think this is the case, especially now?

LZ: I think performing and listening to classical music can fill a void in the soul that other forms of music, however beautiful and powerful they may be, are incapable of reaching. In these recent difficult times, I think young people have the time-and the incentive-to reach for classical music as a way to feed their soul with its beauty, whether it be through listening to it or performing.

GJ:  What are you currently working on?

LZ: I have some large projects in the works; Tchaikovsky Concerto No 1, Beethoven Moonlight Sonata, a number of Chopin Etudes, and some Bach!

GJ: Other than the music, where else do you find inspiration?

LZ: Surfing. Most recently I went on a surf trip to Salina Cruz in Southern Mexico where I was able to ride warm, uncrowded waves. Taking a break from practice allows me to emotionally and psychologically recharge, and afterwards I find my perspective often changes on certain passages  I had been working on before.

GJ: Who are some of your favourite composers?

LZ: Polish composers! Being half Polish myself, I find myself drawn to Polish composers. I think their music fits my temperament, and I find playing Polish music is a great way for me to connect with my heritage. I will admit I also love Scriabin-somehow the pain in his music, the longing, the dreaminess, is something I also feel I can connect to and express effectively in my performances of his works.

GJ: Would you mind naming a few of your favourite pop artists and why?

LZ: My pop music tastes are somewhat eclectic; I like everything from oldies like The Eagles up through modern pop artists like Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello. In general, anything with an energetic beat/fun lyric will float my boat, I’m not very picky.

GJ: What advice do you have for young pianists?

LZ: Discipline and passion. Make sure you really love playing the piano, meaning its not just something your parents made you do, or you do because you like the idea of fame. Second, always be disciplined. This is something I still struggle with myself on occasion; as a pianist, it is crucial to practice many hours every day, with intense concentration.

GJ: What are your plans for the next couple of years?

LZ: Complicated. On one hand, I really want to, and am working towards expanding my performing career. Prior to Covid-19, I was performing very actively, and after the pandemic I do hope to keep that up. On the other hand, a part of me really wishes to simply search the globe chasing after the perfect wave, perhaps for eternity.

GJ: Where can we find you on social media?

LZ: I have a Facebook and YouTube page (just look up my name, Lukasz Yoder ) and my Instagram, on which I am most active, is @barefoot_pianist .

GJ: You mention surfing is a major inspiration for you. Do you feel there are any similarities between surfing a wave and playing a concert?

LZ: Indeed I do. As a pianist, I go on stage never fully knowing what to expect. To truly perform, to be an artist, one must live in that moment, listening and responding to the music one is performing, trusting his or her feelings and hours of practice to give the desired result-a great performance. Surfing is quite similar in this way- to surf a wave, one must be incredibly focused, living fully in the moment, responding and adjusting constantly to every twitch and fold in a wave the surfer is riding



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Urban Craft Magazine: 'Catching the Wave' with Polish-American classical pianist, Lukasz Yoder
'Catching the Wave' with Polish-American classical pianist, Lukasz Yoder
Urban Craft Magazine
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