“Practice! Practice! Practice!”
That is the answer to a very old New York question: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
True. But for Maiko Souda practice – and a corporate transfer – led to that exalted stage. Souda practiced in Japan – and then in New York! After the soprano’s music studies began at the age of three, she earned her Masters degree in opera at the Tokyo College of Music – in Japan. Later, Souda was able to move temporarily – to New Jersey. Now, living close to New York City, Maiko had a goal to find a teacher – and practice, practice, practice.
Like many Japanese residents of the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut Tri-state area, she came as chuzaiin; her husband was transferred on temporary assignment from Japan. The day after her family arrived, she drove from their leased split-level in Fair Lawn, past the “suicide intersection” of highways 17 and 4, across the George Washington Bridge into New York City. Getting closer and closer to Carnegie Hall at every moment.
Maiko found award-winning tenor Francisco Casanova and his singing school, Accademia di Canto Pier Miranda Ferraro, that first day in New York City. Maestro Casanova was impressed by Maiko’s credentials as an award-winning vocal and piano teacher and performer in Tokyo and accepted her to his tutelage immediately. She also studied at The Juilliard School under Maestro Vincent La Selva.
And in September 2013, she participated with the Sixth Annual Circle Wind Concert at Merkin Hall in New York City . . . then . . . Carnegie Hall for the second Japan-US Chorus Festival. She recalls getting on that stage, and looking out into the vast seating area and balconies, and singing – finding out that “I could hear my voice.” She knew she was indeed a professional.
Since then Souda has given numerous concerts in Ridgewood, New Jersey, near her Fair Lawn residence, and in New York City, including performances at the Japanese ambassador’s residence. She has also volunteered with Japanese taiko-drum group Biwanko in concerts at senior citizen centers throughout the area. Her CD, Beauty of Nature, a compilation of Italian and Japanese art songs, was released in December of 2015.
Souda and her family will return home to Japan early next month because her husband is being transferred back to the Japan office, so she planned her United States farewell with a program of opera, Japanese koto and classical piano. This final month in the Metropolitan area, Souda gave two fundraising performances to benefit Japanese children who survived the great earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011. On April 10 she performed a farewell recital with Maestro Casanova, pianist Yumi Hashimoto, and koto artist Yoko Reikano Kimura at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church in New York City, receiving a standing ovation. And at the Presbyterian Church in Leonia, New Jersey, she held a solo performance on April 23.
Souda may have said her farewell, but those who have attended her various performances and have heard her sing in the New York/New Jersey area during her short stay eagerly await a return engagement.