SOMERS, N.Y. - There are three pianos in the living room where Japanese classical pianist ShiZ’ka Arkus practices for her upcoming performance.
Two well-loved wooden pianos and then, on the floor by her couch, a 2-foot tall red, plastic piano where her son, Emil, 2, can play along with his parents.
Arkus is getting ready to debut her first self-titled album at a release recital at New York City and her excitement to share her gift overtakes any nerves she may feel.
Over the last few years, Arkus, who recently moved to Heritage Hills with husband Edmund and their son, Emil, said she’s been performing more and more and it’s her favorite part of being a pianist.
Being a professional musician was part destiny and part inevitable for Arkus, who’s mother is an oboist and father is a bassoonist. They have a music school in Japan where Arkus grew up. Her mother recognized her talent at an early age and her passion and skill thrived in an environment surrounded by other musicians.
Still, Arkus said she felt some doubt when putting together her first album, but pushed ahead with the encouragement of her colleagues.
She began recording the collection of sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti in October and the album was ready to go by December. Recently, it’s gotten a wider audience after being picked up and played on radio stations WQXR and WNYC.
“I feel like I’m finally able to share my life, the vision of my life, and my music through this disc,” Arkus said. “It’s quite amazing.”
It’s her purpose, she said, to share her music with the world.
Arkus met her husband, Edmund, also a pianist, in New York City. The two moved to Heritage Hills where Edmund’s sister also lives so their son Emil, 2, could one day go to Somers schools.
What’s unique about the playing of Scarlatti’s sonatas is that the music was written for a harpsichord, Arkus said, so it was a challenge to figure out how she would play the pieces.
“There are multiple ways of playing his work,” Arkus said. “One is to try to follow the instrument that was quite ancient, and the other way is to try to stick with the modern instrument.”
The harpsichord doesn’t have pedals like a piano and Arkus wanted to combine the ancient with the modern for her version.
“It was a very exciting process,” Arkus said.
When performing, Arkus wants the audience to be taken by the music and not hear all the hard work that went into it.
“I do get nervous, but without knowing. Inside, I’m worried about a few things that could happen, accidents, missed notes, but at the end what should happen is just music, not me,” Arkus said. “There’s only music that should be happening on stage.”