Aloha, Yoshi

Yoshi Nishimura, 1941-2012

Yoshi Nishimura, 1941-2012

I can’t believe it! What a terrible loss!

That was my first reaction when I read the news on FaceBook about the death of Yoshi Nishimura, considered THE piano technician in Honolulu. Chances are, not many people in the pews and the concert hall audiences knew about this quiet, unassuming man. But I dare say that every single musician in Honolulu knew Yoshi, the piano tuner. You see, he was the technician for the pianos at the University of Hawaii, the Honolulu Symphony, and lots of schools (including Iolani, where I am the chapel organist). Yes, he even tuned the Grotrien piano for years and years at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu, and worked on the piano in the early years when it was located in Maui.

In today’s Star-Advertiser, Steven Mark said that “Honolulu has the highest rate of piano teachers per capita in the nation,” and Yoshi’s piano dealership, Mozart House, serviced many of them. However it was his piano technician skills which won him an international reputation and he, in fact, was even flown specially to Switzerland to work on the pianos of the great Vladimir Ashkenazy. According to the newspaper article, there are quotes from Misha Dichter, Jose Feghall (Van Cliburn gold medalist), and Joseph Bloch (Juilliard School of Music) to attest to Yoshi’s genius as a piano technician. Yoshi would spend hours and hours working on a piano to its perfection. In the article, Mark says Yoshi was even offered a position in the Juilliard School as piano technician, but he turned it down, preferring to live in Hawaii.

Red Bösendorffer piano in Mozart House, Honolulu

Red Bösendorffer piano in Mozart House, Honolulu

A few years ago, our local American Guild of Organists took a tour of Yoshi’s piano studio. Yoshi had several unusual instruments and this Bösendorffer piano with its red lid and trim caught my eye.

Here’s what local musicians said about Yoshi. “His discipline and work ethic was simply amazing. . .He worked on the piano for over 8 hours WITHOUT A BREAK. . . It is a loss not only for the community, but the music world . . . There will never be another one like him.” Carl Crosier said, “Yoshi was a true artist. Not only did he have a fantastic ear, but he knew piano mechanism inside and out.”

Yoshi’s memorial service will be held tomorrow (October 27th) at Kawaiaha’o Church with music starting at 3:00 pm, and the service at 4:00 pm. Mark Wong, who has subbed for me several times at LCH, will play the service since organist Buddy Naluai will be away.

Aloha, Yoshi. We will miss you!


About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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3 Responses to Aloha, Yoshi

  1. Yoshi’s death took me back to the first, second, third, fourth times I was met by Yoshi and encouraged to try all the pianos in his huge studio. He was a great man as measured by all attributes that a person in the piano profession and business could have: dedicated, skilled, masterful, zealot for the creation of beautiful sound, gracious,
    generous, skilled not only in piano technical work, but also in customer relations. He was a titanic master of his craft. His son, Alan, is a brilliant piano technician who followed his father into this essential work and joined him at the store and outside where he is also practicing giving great voice to the many pianos under his stewardship.

  2. Lee Gordon says:

    When describing the man and his talents one could best refer to him as a kind and gentle person that was a Magician Technician. A true mastermind when it came to the care and maintenance of the Piano Forte. He never treated me as a competitor and was always eager to share his knowledge. Yoshi will be missed by many. I’m honored to have known him and will always remember him as a mentor and a friend.

  3. Nam says:

    I just learned from Yoshi’s passing. I did not know him very well as I only saw him few times when he came on Maui to tune my piano. I remember very well when I first him. He asked me to meet with him for an interview before deciding if he would tune my Bosendorfer or not…. Si i flew to Honoluku. I never had to do such thing before but i figured out that anyone who interview their clients before performing has to be exceptional. And he really was. He was also so nice, always showing me the programs of the various competitions he attended to in Asia. He will be missed dearly.

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