Joshua Nakazawa, Cello

Question & Answer

How did you choose your instrument?JoshNakazawa_WEB

Apparently it all started when I was growing up (around age 3) in Cambridge; My mother (a flute player) took me to her rehearsals while my father attended evening college courses, and she had me listen/wait by the cello section. Although I have little recollection of it, I begged for a cello, and when my wish was granted I lined up my ninja turtles on the living room staircase so that they would sit as my audience as I practiced. I didn’t believe it, but there is actually photographic evidence of that.

What was the first piece of music you fell in love with?

The first piece of music I fell in love with was probably the Ravel piano trio. I first performed it at a summer music festival that ran for a month many many years ago, and I had a huge crush on the violinist in my chamber group. The piece was so romantic and required such a precise connection between all of the players to control the many dynamics, rubatos and accelerandos, that for the first time I learned what it was like to create music drawn from emotions being experienced on the spot in real-time. I think that with any piece of music one falls in love with, there is an intense emotional connection from an experience had at the time whether happy or sad.

When was the career of music chosen?

I suppose my career in music was chosen in the last semester of my junior year in high school. That’s when the whole college stress really begins, and I wasn’t sure which path to take. I decided I was going to go for it [in music], and audition for conservatories. Luckily I had already taken some courses that allowed me to finish my credit requirements early, so I was able to have a pretty free schedule my senior year. Yep.. I didn’t do much that year besides practice…

What is your biggest hurdle faced as a musician?

I think the biggest hurdle is finding balance. To balance growing as a musician, which requires an intense practice and performance regimen, while still actively participating in society’s growth away from my instrument can be perplexing in terms of energy and scheduling. Being a musician requires constant upkeep such as practicing every day to keep up our chops, and for most of us, managing our own careers. I think that it’s difficult but necessary to participate in the growth of a healthy society whether it is in a political, environmental or educational way. In my experience I find that growth on one side usually helps growth on the other and that they need each other to exist and thrive.

What’s best about living in Hawaii?

Ever since I moved here I’ve been, very unexpectedly, uncovering facts about my ancestry. It’s only now that I have discovered that my grandfather lived here for some time and served with the 442nd unit. He also apparently had a singing and dancing act with accordion here…what!?   I was not familiar with the details of his life before coming here, yet now that I am here I certainly feel some strong ancestral connections and inclination to do more research about his life!

But also: shave ice, poke, free diving, hiking, rainbows … the list goes on.

What are your activities, hobbies, interests, outside of music?

I love free diving. I used to do it on the east coast and now I’m excited to be in paradise for it!

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Ice cream.

More about Joshua Nakazawa

Joshua Nakazawa, a graduate of Manhattan School of Music and Southern Methodist University, is excited to be joining the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra this year. In 2016 he will also be performing as an artist apprentice with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and as a guest musician with the Charleston Symphony in South Carolina. In recent years Joshua has performed with the New World Symphony, Performance Santa Fe, New Haven Symphony and New Bedford Symphony. Having a great appreciation for summer music festivals, viewing them as a mecca for building colleague relationships, performing new repertoire and enjoying different cultures, Joshua has enjoyed participating in the Spoleto Music Festival, Pacific Music Festival, and the Banff music festival.