Concertgoers who attended last night’s performance sat stunned as Naoki Toyomura lifted his hands lightly off the piano and stood up to bow. The concluding piece, Chopin’s 12 Etudes Op. 25, was so intense and dramatic it prompted concert host and Kids on Keys Director Susannah Marks to joke that Toyomura played an uplifting short song during the bravo in order to calm down the audience. Susannah Marks is the Founder and Director of Kids on Keys music schools, and in fact, Toyomura started out at age five at Kids on Keys when the school was based in Auckland, New Zealand (where the Director is from). Kids on Keys is located in downtown Westfield and specializes in musical education from beginner to advanced—check out their website www.kidsonkeysnyc.com or inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The program for the evening started with the light and airy Mozart Piano Sonata in E-Flat Major, deftly interpreted by Toyomura and expertly executed as members of the audience no doubt wondered foremost how the pianist can memorize each piece. Really, how does he do that? After a curt bow and a few head nods to the audience, Toyomura then launched into Albeniz, playing Evocation Fete Dieu a Sevilla. The transition was seamless, and the progression of the two pieces before the intermission complimented each other well. There seemed to be a definite crescendo of increasing drama and excitement leading up to the Chopin. Intermission was brief and refreshments were served as audience members chatted about such an impressive level of skill, really, how does he do it?
Then the Chopin started. The flutter of the hands up and down the keys at an incredible speed was almost unbelievable, seemingly impossible. Toyomura seems to keep in touch with the emotional expression of the music via swaying, heavy breathing, maybe even the odd gasp or two, it was a Glenn Gould-esque performance, and the artist was surely present, transcendent and hypnotic all at the same time. How does one come to accomplish such a feat? Susannah Marks opened with the introduction stating that it is through discipline and discipline alone that one gets to such a high level in music. However, after the concert, one has to wonder that this young prodigy is gifted, naturally talented, something more, something innate and inexpressible, as the experience of this kind happens few times in a lifetime.