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Prep students on From The Top

13-year-old pianist Naomi Yamaguchi, student of Hitomi Koyama, and 17-year-old violinist Alex Goldberg, student of Donald Weilerstein, performed and shared musical memories on From the Top.

Pianist Naomi Yamaguchi, age 13 and violinist Alex Goldberg, age 17, both students at NEC’s Preparatory School were featured on NPR’s From the Top, a program and initiative showcasing young classical musicians. The episode, hosted by pianist Christopher O’Riley, was taped at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall on February 11 and aired on March 19.

Listen to NPR’s From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley: Boston, Massachusetts  / Show 349

Naomi Yamaguchi's orchestral dreams

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Naomi Yamaguchi lives in Acton, Massachusetts where she is in eighth grade at R.J. Grey Junior High School. She studies piano with Hitomi Koyama at New England Conservatory Preparatory School. Naomi made her Carnegie Hall debut at age seven and has performed in the Young Artist World Piano Festival in Minnesota and at the Consulate of Japan among other engagements. She was a 2017 recipient of the Ruth Laredo “An die Musik’ Memorial Fund Award and performed with the Tuesday Musicale Chamber Orchestra in Detroit as part of her award.

Her favorite musical experience was when she played the Mozart Concerto in A Major with the Orchard Lake Philharmonic Society in Michigan at age nine. She loved the process of making music with the orchestra and practicing with the conductor. Outside of music, she enjoys karate and Japanese tea ceremonies.

Naomi played “Ricercare and Toccata” on a Theme from The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti.

“I knew I wanted to become a professional pianist when I got to play with a professional orchestra for the first time,” said Naomi. “I remember how I dreamed, and still dream, of someday traveling the world with orchestras.”

Alex Goldberg's musical memories: from Babar to Berlin

Alexander Franco Goldberg hails from Redwood City, California and now resides in Andover, Massachusetts, where he attends Andover High School. Alex has soloed with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and earned top prizes from Pacific Musical Society, Menuhin-Dowling Competitions, American Protégé International Concerto competition, Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO) Concerto Competition, and Brockton Symphony Orchestra’s Dr. Carol Vasconcellos Youth Concerto Competition.

Alex’s favorite musical experience has been spending the summer studying at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana di Siena (Italy), which he attended as a Merit Diploma student. He studies violin with Donald Weilerstein at New England Conservatory Preparatory School. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, collecting vinyl LPs, watching classic films, hiking, and doing crossword puzzles.

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Alex performed Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105 - 1. Mit leidenschaftlichem Ausdruck by Robert Schumann.

“As a kid, I really loved these children’s books of Babar the Elephant,” Alex shared. “One of the characters in it … was this monkey, Zephyr. And actually, Zephyr the monkey played the violin! … At one point, he actually saved a princess with his violin playing, and that really made me want to play violin.”

Another favorite musical memory of Alex's happened while on tour in Germany with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. Alex expressed an interest in conducting, and:

“It just so happened—I was very lucky—that it was someone’s birthday the day we were rehearsing in the Berlin Phil! So, I got to conduct Happy Birthday in the Berlin Phil.”

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