Without any beginning introductions, a barefoot Yuri Yamamoto calmly walked across the stage of Carswell Concert Hall at Meredith College. After sitting down at the piano, she thought for a moment, and then began to play. Thus began the first section of this improvisation concert. This first set consisted of five sections, split by pauses. Although the texture of each section was slightly different, they all seemed to be unified. Slowly rolled chords, neither major nor minor, were played against an abstract melody in the first section. The resulting sound was meditative and precise, with some surprising moments in the chord progression. The following two sets expanded the range of dynamic contrast, with the volume ebbing and flowing organically. The featured melody was more suspenseful and mournful than the first, as well as slightly more lyrical. Unique from the others, the fourth section contained chromatic bursts of energy in the treble, adding a curious flair to the melody. The fifth section notably featured a flowing ostinato between alternating chords in the treble and bass ranges. Although each section had different elements, they seemed very connected, as they were all ultimately peaceful and calming.

For the next set, Yamamoto brought a small black suitcase onstage (or “treasure box”) and asked if any children in the audience were curious about its contents. Three girls picked various items from the suitcase: a blue net-like scarf, a dark blue umbrella, and a teddy bear were the first chosen. Yamamoto then explained that she would play a song inspired by each of the objects. The blue scarf, a gift to the artist from her daughters, was represented in song by a buoyant and energetic melody. The texture was very free, sometimes featuring lengthy trills for contrast. The umbrella’s song was definitely inspired by rain – repeated notes mimicked the sound of raindrops, rising and falling in intensity. For the teddy bear’s song, she also picked out a Santa hat and a second teddy bear to accompany the first. This piece was essentially a lullaby, with a particular quality in the melody that sounded like reminiscence. Curiously, Yamamoto had set an alarm offstage to go off, at which point she ended the lullaby. She played the next song while the three little girls danced onstage with long scarves from the suitcase – a passionate melody accompanied them.

The pianist then asked for several more volunteers from the audience for a bit of collaboration. First, she and a group of six adults led the rest of the audience in picking a random note and singing it until running out of breath. The result was surprisingly not as dissonant as expected. Yamamoto then led her group in a series of collaborations, with a combination of a cappella sounds like scatting, clapping, singing, and also movement. The result was not incredibly beautiful, yet it was really interesting to watch. All the onstage participants appeared to be enjoying themselves, and it was fascinating to see how they followed one another in the improvisation. Yamamoto wrapped up her concert by performing a piece “inspired by this experience”. This was a very passionate performance; it began with boisterous low chords and was sometimes discordant, but it came together to a full and triumphant ending.