Cellist Mitchell Lyon and pianist Mika Sasaki met in 2017 at the Charles Ives Chamber Music Intensive in Danbury, C.T., where they both taught and performed as Artist Faculty. They found themselves equally passionate about chamber music, community engagement, and education, and have since become close collaborators on a variety of projects, from chamber music performances of traditional, contemporary, and original repertoire for cello and piano, to educational workshops.
The 2019-2020 season for the duo includes a summer residency at Avaloch Farm Music Institute, recitals in New York City, Asheville, N.C., Ridgefield, C.T. (Fountain Music Concert Series), Washington D.C., and Cold Spring, N.Y. (Chapel Restoration Series), as well as the launch of the “Landscapes: Music for a Changing Climate” project. “Landscapes” aims to raise awareness of the threat of climate change and its potential impact on communities and individuals by creating a musical space in which audience members can find an emotional connection to the power of nature, its essential relationship with humanity, and the specter of climate change. With the support of the Juilliard Career Advancement Fellowship grant, they have commissioned a duo work by composer Andrew Hsu to bring a contemporary perspective to this challenge.
Their artistic vision as a duo—to meet new audiences and help listeners make personal connections with different kinds of music—will see them co-teaching a summer intensive course at the Juilliard School’s Evening Division in June 2019. The workshop, “Common Tones: Classical and Pop Music Connections,” will explore common building blocks between two seemingly disparate genres, helping students gain insights into form, harmony, and other essential ingredients in music by tracing groundbreaking techniques shared between the classical repertory and popular hits.
Both alumni of The Juilliard School, Mitchell and Mika have performed in a variety of concert halls and intimate spaces around the world, and have worked regularly with students and community members of all ages in New York City as teaching artists for the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect, respectively, and Juilliard.
As individuals, they have established themselves as active and versatile performers and educators in the city and beyond. Mitchell performs regularly in Lincoln Center and is a founding member of Empire Wild, a crossover trio of two cellos and voice/piano/percussion. His festival appearances include the Woodlands, Norfolk, Fontainebleau, Meadowmount, and Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School, among others. Mika recently completed her doctoral degree at Juilliard, where she teaches keyboard studies and piano in the College and Evening Divisions, respectively, and tours frequently as a member of Ensemble Mélange. Her summer festival appearances include the Nord Anglia Summer Performing Arts with Juilliard, pianoSonoma, Music@Menlo, Chigiana, Tanglewood, Taos, Yellow Barn, and Aspen.