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World-renowned pianist John Kamitsuka
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  • Legacy

After a four-year hiatus, John Kamitsuka, part of the founding class of HIS, returned to play piano, talk story, and share his insights on life through music.


Renowned Pianist John Kamitsuka Performs at HIS

After a four-year hiatus, John Kamitsuka, part of the founding class of HIS, returned to play piano, talk story, and share his insights on life through music.

Words: Daniel Shen

Photos: J.Pangier

Portrait photo provided by Mr. Kamitsuka.


World-renowned pianist John Kamitsuka

“Small communities make for good friendships. We didn’t have a fancy playground, so we had to make up games, like sailing boats in muddy waters” 

On May 12th, we were graced by the annual performance of John Kamitsuka, a world-renowned pianist who has showcased his talent in globally acclaimed venues like Carnegie Hall. Mr. Kamitsuka, in fact, is a Husky himself; he was one of the first students during the school's formative years when all students, from kindergarten to high school, shared the same classroom.

This year, Mr. Kamitsuka directed our attention towards the life and works of one of the greatest composers of all time— Ludwig Van Beethoven.

Mr. Kamitsuka selected Beethoven’s last sonata (Piano Sonata No. 32) for his performance, a piece often considered among Beethoven's finest works. Remarkably, Beethoven composed this when he had already lost his hearing. "Everything you're going to hear stems completely from an internal source," Mr. Kamitsuka explained, "12-15 hours of some of the most phenomenal music ever composed, all from the final period of Beethoven’s life." We can learn from this that we should make the most of our situation. From sailing paper boats in muddy waters to composing music in silence, we should always be resilient. 

Mr. Kamitsuka playing beautifully beside Luke Zheng ('26) in an unrehearsed piece. 

Beethoven’s life was marked by struggle. Raised in an abusive household, with his father routinely assaulting him and his mother, he still managed to rise above and achieve greatness. Perhaps it was these early struggles that drove him towards innovation in his music. Moreover, his compositions were often influenced by contemporary events and figures, such as Napoleon, signifying an era of rebellion and democracy.

Mr. Kamitsuka further shared, "There is music that is beautiful, and then there is music that resides in a state of transcendence; you can play it, but you'll never fully grasp its depth." 

Upon playing the final notes of Beethoven’s last sonata, a student in the audience asked, "How long did it take you to learn this piece?" Mr. Kamitsuka responded without hesitation: "A lifetime."


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