Leyna KitahamaCello (2021 DTMA Recipient)
"It is truly an honor to be part of Music of Remembrance and be given the opportunity to play music that matters, commemorating people who faced political calamity throughout history. Music plays an important role in reviving moments in history that could otherwise be forgotten. As a high school student still learning history in textbooks, I am humbled to be able to contribute to this experience with my cello playing. When I was eight, I decided to take up cello after being drawn by the beautiful sound of the instrument, which sounded like a human voice. It would be my greatest honor to express the voices of people who found the courage to speak up in the face of oppression, past and present, through my cello." - Leyna Kitahama
Cellist Leyna Kitahama, 16, discovered the charm of cello studies at the Claude-Debussy in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, where at the age of eight, she met her cello teacher, Claire Oppert. During that time, Leyna was given numerous opportunities to perform at music festivals, master classes, and nursing homes. Leyna moved to the United States in 2019, and began her cello studies with Walter Gray, a cellist with the Seattle Symphony.
Leyna is the 2021 David Tonkonogui Memorial Award recipient, awarded by Music of Remembrance. It allowed her to perform two concerts both as a soloist and as a duo. She was selected as one of the Concerto Division Winners of the 2023 Seattle Young Artists Music Festival, receiving an opportunity to perform with the Philharmonia Northwest Orchestra.
She has performed in masterclasses with Jean Michel Fonteneau, Wesley Baldwin, Nick Curry, and Mihai Tetel. Playing chamber music with her orchestra schoolmates, she has had opportunities to play in church, festivals, showcases, and contributed to their high school fundraising events.