As the longtime director of the University Symphony Orchestra at UW-Eau Claire, Nobuyoshi Yasuda has used his talent and passion to educate and inspire thousands of Blugolds.
Soon, some of the top high school musicians in the country will get a chance to work with the internationally known musician and conductor who has been part of UW-Eau Claire’s music faculty for nearly 30 years.
Yasuda, a professor of music, has been invited to lead the 2020 All-National Symphony Orchestra, one of six groups that make up the All-National Honor Ensembles. The prestigious ensembles, organized by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), are composed of outstanding high school musicians who are selected through a rigorous audition process.
Yasuda, who joined the music and theatre arts faculty in 1991 and has served as director of the Chippewa Valley Symphony since 1993, is well-known in the community for his energy, enthusiasm and unique ability to convey often complex musical insights to musicians of all ages.
This latest honor marks a new level of professional recognition for the accomplished conductor.
"The invitation from NafME’s program chair came as a total surprise," Yasuda says. "I am most honored to have this opportunity to make music with aspiring young musicians at the national level."
The prestigious invitation follows a string of state-level guest-conducting honors as Yasuda’s reputation as an outstanding educator and conductor has moved beyond the Chippewa Valley.
In recent years, Yasuda has served as conductor of the Wisconsin High School State Honors Orchestra, Illinois All-State High School Orchestra, Alaska All-State High School Orchestra, North Dakota All State High School Orchestra and Minnesota Middle Level State Honors Orchestra.
He says he enjoys working with high school musicians because they are enthusiastic and willing to challenge themselves musically.
“Motivated high-school-age musicians possess a strong passion for music and are eager to work hard to do a great job,” Yasuda says. “Their level of energy is high and they put their hearts into their performances.”
Yasuda and the 100-plus members of the All-National Symphony Orchestra will meet for the first time in November in Orlando, Florida. They then will rehearse intensively with the goal of presenting a polished performance, all in a three-day period.
What is Yasuda’s strategy for directing a new group of young musicians within such a condensed time frame?
"I don’t have any strategy," Yasuda says. "I love music and I know they love music. As soon as I stand on the podium, I engage them in music making through the power of music. Once everybody understands the goal — to give the best musical performance we can give, we are a strong team and we just get the job done."
While he looks forward to connecting with promising musicians from across the country, Yasuda's UW-Eau Claire students and colleagues are never far from his mind.
“I am very excited about this opportunity,” Yasuda says. “I would like to express my gratitude to my colleagues in the music and theatre arts department, and especially our students, for allowing me to share my love of music.”
Photo caption: Nobuyoshi Yasuda, pictured with the Chippewa Valley Symphony and soloist Jessica Jiang earlier this month, has been selected to lead the 2020 All-National Symphony Orchestra next November in Orlando, Florida. (Photo credit: Mark Oliver)