Rie Tanaka, Piano
Jesse Nummelin, Cello
Japanese Pianist Rie Tanaka and Finnish-American Cellist Jesse Nummelin met while studying at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. The language barrier challenged them to communicate verbally, but they bonded through playing Classical Music together, and have been performing together for the past 10 years.
Now a married couple, Jesse and Rie's mission is to to build bridges between people and cultures using the universal language of music. Their duo name "Ihana" is a Finnish word for "wonderful," acknowledging Jesse's three-quarter Finnish Heritage, while it could also mean "one flower" in Japanese. The name carries the meaning of two cultures coming together.
Their most recent project is an original multi-cultural program, titled "Folk Music of Classical Composers". Featured composers are Sibelius, Copland, de Falla, Bartok, Mamiya, and Chopin. All of these composers are widely known for integrating the traditional folk music of their heritage into classical music, and bringing spotlights to the underrepresented cultures throughout Western Music history. The duo hopes to offer diverse and cross-cultural experience to the audience, and show how cultures, although different from one another, can speak to every one of us with a sense of belonging, comfort, and nostalgia.
Native of Osaka, Japan, pianist Rie Tanaka is a prize winner of international and national competitions in Japan and the U.S. She won West Central MTNA Young Artist Competition (Winner), Schubert Club Scholarship Competition (1st Prize), Thursday Musical Young Artist Scholarship Competition (1st Prize), Chautauqua International Piano Competition (Finalist, Best Performance of Commissioned Piece Award), 8th Rosenstock International Piano Competition (Jury Special Award), Kyoto Piano Concours (Bronze), and more.
An active solo and chamber musician, Rie performs frequently in the Twin Cities. She has appeared in venues such as NHK Osaka hall, Phoenix hall in Osaka Japan, the Ordway Center for the Performing, Landmark Center, and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra center, among others. She is a Thursday Musical Artist, as well as regular performer at the Coffee Concert Series at the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music.
Rie is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Alexander Braginsky. She earned her MM from the University of Minnesota, and BM from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she studied under Raffi Besalyan.
Rie is a piano faculty at the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music, and Mount Olivet School of Music. She is a frequent guest artist/faculty at the South Beach Chamber Ensemble, Green Lake Chamber Music Camp, and Minnesota International Piano Camp. She has passion in educating musicians about performance injury and prevention, and has been invited to give lectures and lead special wellness sessions.
Jesse Nummelin is a native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He started Suzuki cello at age three with the Aber Suzuki Center for the Arts and performed with the Suzuki Chamber Ensemble under Mr. David Becker from 2004-2008. Jesse later went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in cello performance at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point and then a Masters of Music at Arizona State where he worked as Teaching Assistant to Professor Thomas Landschoot.
Jesse is an avid chamber musician and teacher. He is currently a member of the Des Moines Symphony, Duluth Superior Symphony, and South Dakota Symphony. He has played with orchestras including Phoenix Symphony, Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, Scottsdale Arts Orchestra, Musica Nova, Tucson Pops and the Tucson Symphony. He has played with the CWSO scholarship quartet, premiered several compositions with string quartet at the Museum of Musical Instruments in Phoenix, AZ and has performed on the UWSP radio broadcast “Acoustic Revival.” He also made a series of Jazz recordings through the Foulger Institute with acclaimed artists Allison Eldredge and Tom Landschoot. Jesse has performed with notable artists including Lang Lang, Andrea Bocelli, Pinchas Zukerman, Anne Akiko Meyers, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Curtis Stigers, the Juilliard String Quartet and John Williams.
He has taught cello to people of all ages and backgrounds through various programs and private studios. He served as a faculty of cello at the Aber Suzuki Center for the Arts at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in 2016. Jesse currently lives in St. Paul and teaches cello at the St. Paul Conservatory of Music, Mount Olivet School of Music, the Waldorf City of Lakes School and Music Connection in Forest Lake.
Jesse’s teachers include Thomas Landschoot, Tom Rosenberg, Dr. Lawrence Leviton, Dr. Tim Mutschlecner, John Greiner, and Susan Bender.
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