Mesa-Yakushev Duo los gatos concert association
The Mesa-Yakushev Duo are set to perform at 2pm on Sept. 25 at Los Gatos United Methodist Church as the Los Gatos Concert Association celebrates the opening of its 75th season. Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa and Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev have received rave reviews from reviewers who say their performances are “stupendous” and “mesmerizing.” Photo courtesy of Mesa-Yakushev Duo

The Los Gatos Concert Association has been bringing world-class entertainers to town for 75 years but that legacy is in danger as the association seeks to rebuild its pre-Covid audience.

The nonprofit organization was established in 1947 as the Los Gatos Community Concert Association but it dropped “community” from the name in 2020 for marketing purposes.

“The difference between our concerts and other classical concerts is normally the artist comes out and plays and leaves the stage,” LGCA president Kevin Hayashi said. “Our concerts are more personal because the artists explain to the audience why they chose a piece.”

Hayashi has been LGCA president for 15 years.

“If you work with a volunteer group, it’s usually fun people doing what they like and this is a fun group,” Hayashi said.

LGCA concertgoers are usually seniors, although Hayashi added that “a lot of kids play the piano, so we’d love to have younger families attend.”  

Longtime board member Maryon Hicks, who’s sat on the LGCA board for nearly 40 years, remains active with the group because she wants to “share excellent music” with our community.

“As a child, my mother, who was a piano teacher, took me to community concerts in Ontario, California,” Hicks wrote in an email. “I heard so many of the finest performances of the time (like) Marian Anderson and pianist Arthur Rubenstein.”

Hicks came to Los Gatos in 1956 to teach musical instruments to Los Gatos elementary schoolchildren.

“The LGCA was a perfect opportunity to expose the children and their families to attend outstanding performances,” Hicks said.

She pointed to violinist Martin Stoner as an example of a successful performer who attended Los Gatos schools, went to Julliard and returned to town in the early ‘90s to perform for the LGCA.

The LGCA often tries to bring Bay Area performers to town because their expenses are less, so they help subsidize the out-of-town artists’ performances. 

“In May, we had the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra perform,” Hayashi said. “They’re from Marin and are well-known internationally.”

In fact, many LGCA performers are internationally known, Hayashi said.

The Mesa & Yakushev Duo is an example of award-winning performers who have been recognized on the world stage. Cuban-American Cellist Thomas Mesa, who was the 2016 winner of the prestigious Sphinx Competition, will be joined on stage by Russian pianist Ilya Yakushev.

Yakushev won the 2005 World Piano Competition and has performed with the San Francisco Symphony under conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. An online bio describes him as “one of the very best young pianists before the public today.”

“They’re classical but not heavy-duty,” Hayashi said. “They may have some contemporary songs in there.”

Mesa & Yakushev’s Sept. 25 concert is at 2:30pm at Los Gatos United Methodist Church, 111 Church St. Doors open at 2pm.

Before the pandemic, LGCA performances were attracting about 300 people. But last May’s audience for the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra only numbered around 200, so Hayashi is concerned for the future.

“We work on a shoestring budget,” he said. “Ticket sales cover maybe 50 percent of our budget, so we also rely on donations and grants for funding.”

Tickets can be purchased individually or for the entire four-concert season. Season tickets are $65 for adults, $60 for seniors, $10 for students and $140 for families.

All concerts are on Sunday afternoons at 2:30pm.

Tickets for one concert only go on sale two weeks before each show. The cost is $30 for adults, $25 for seniors, $5 for students and $65 for families.    

Tickets will also be available at the door.   

Concertgoers must be ready to show proof of Covid vaccinations and a photo ID.

The Mesa & Yakushev performance is one of four concerts sponsored this season by the LGCA. The other shows are Nov. 6, when the Spanish Brass quintet performs; Fandango performs Jan. 22 and pianist Judy Carmichael takes the stage on April 30.  

Visit for online ticket purchases and more information.

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