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Pacific Conservatory of Music alumnus Yoshiaki Onishi ’04 was recently awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Photo by David Adamcyk

Pacific Conservatory of Music alumnus Yoshiaki Onishi ’04 was recently awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. Photo by David Adamcyk

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Arts and Culture

Pacific Conservatory alumnus named Guggenheim Fellow

Apr 19, 2018

Pacific Conservatory of Music alumnus Yoshiaki Onishi '04 was recently awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.

Onishi is one of 175 artists, writers, scholars and scientists selected for demonstrating "prior achievement and exceptional promise" from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.

"This is a great honor for Yoshiaki, and he must be thrilled," said Peter Witte, dean of the conservatory. "A Guggenheim Fellowship speaks volumes about Yoshi, and the faculty who helped him go onto great success at Yale, Columbia and beyond.  It's a fantastically impressive accomplishment by him and, also, very much a point of pride for the faculty who taught him."

Onishi studied composition with Robert Coburn and Francois Rose, clarinet with Patricia Shands and conducting with Eric Hammer.

"I cannot possibly pick just one mentor, because the professors I studied with are all a significant part of my education at Pacific," Onishi said. "Their teachings are still part of my musical thinking now, and I believe they will remain so for a very long time."

He has a long list of compositions, including "...et in terra pax ...(!?)," "Mémoriale," and "Travelogues I, II and II," all written during his time at Pacific. After graduating from the conservatory, Onishi earned a master's degree and an artist diploma from Yale, as well as a master's degree and doctorate degree from Columbia University. He was also a teaching fellow at Yale and Columbia, and an associate professor at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo in from 2015 to 2017. He was just awarded a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Missouri School of Music.

Onishi credits Pacific with the basis of his later success as a composer.

"Pacific was the first place where I was made to realize that music is more profound and fascinating - even incomprehensible - than I might ever imagine it to be," Onishi said. "My time at Pacific really helped me establish the solid foundation on which I built my path later."

"It's exceptionally satisfying to name 175 new Guggenheim Fellows," Edward Hirsch, president of the foundation, said in a statement. "These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we're thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It's an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do."

Over time, the foundation has granted more than $360 million in fellowships to 18,000 people including Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, National Book Awards, and other prestigious honors, poets laureate and members of national academies. This year's winners came from 49 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 69 academic institutions, 31 states, and three Canadian provinces. The prizes vary and are intended to give winners freedom to work with as much creative freedom as possible. 

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