Popular pianist in Japan to perform in L.A., Sept 2, 4, 17
Fuzjko Hemming Piano Solo Concert
Friday, September 2, 8:00 pm
Sunday, September 4, 4:30 pm
Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, the Broad Stage
1310 Eleventh Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tickets: $120, $100, $80, $60
Saturday, September 17, 7:00 pm
Colburn School, Zipper Hall
200 South Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $120, $100, $80
www.soto-planning.com (424) 888-4022
By Keiko Mori
If you were to learn of the lifelong struggles of 77-year-old pianist Ingrid Fuzjko Georgii-Hemming, it would not take long to become fascinated by her stories.
Hemming was born in Berlin to a Japanese pianist mother and a Swedish-Russian artist father. When she was five, she relocated to Tokyo, but her father soon left the country. She started daily piano lessons with her mother, and by 16, was hailed as a child prodigy.
Then the first tragedy of her life struck: Ear inflammation led to deafness in her right ear. Despite this, she made her concert debut at 17, and subsequently won many Japanese competitions and furthered her studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music.
Hemming wished to continue her studies in Europe, but another obstacle awaited her. It turned out that she became a nationless person, therefore, no passport for passage to Europe. She had lost her Swedish citizenship, because she had never lived there, and her mother had never acquired Japanese citizenship for her.
Eventually, with the aid of the German Embassy in Tokyo and the Japanese Red Cross, she was granted refugee status.
Hemming was 28 when she finally went to the Berlin Institute of Music. After her studies, she moved to Vienna, where she met such renowned musicians as Bruno Maderna, who offered her a soloist contract with support from Leonard Bernstein.
Another crisis occurred: Extremely cold weather and her inability to afford heating caused her to suffer from a high fever and lose her hearing in her left ear—just before a recital that could have helped her achieve status as a leading performer.
In the midst of her despair, she moved to Stockholm to receive medical care. There she took jobs to make ends meet, including janitorial work at a psychiatric ward. Later 40% of her hearing was restored in her left ear, and she started performing again in small concert halls.
In early 1999, a television documentary about Hemming’s turbulent life story was aired on NHK, a Japanese national television network. The documentary received an unprecedented sensational reaction, making her a classical music star in Japan overnight.
In the same year, her debut CD “La Campanella” was released and went on to sell over two million copies. Four of her 15 CD releases have received the Classical Album of the Year award at the Japan Gold Disc Awards.
Hemming’s playing might be considered rather unorthodox in the classical music world, where many musicians tend to “play by the book.” For her, passionate expression and color of sound play more important roles. She has performed countless sold-out concerts across Europe, the United States and in Japan. This is her fourth visit to Los Angeles, after her last performance in 2009.
The concert, to be held on September 2 and 4, at the Broad Stage of Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, will feature works by Liszt and Chopin. A portion of the proceeds will go to the recovery effort for the earthquake victims in northeastern Japan.
Japanese-born Keiko Mori has been assisting performing artists from management and legal perspectives, after graduating from the University of Southern California with Master’s degrees in Entertainment Management and Professional Writing.