Meet the Musicians: Ko-ichiro Yamamoto

Seattle Symphony Principal Trombone Ko-ichiro Yamamoto brings a singular focus to his performances with the orchestra — and to skiing with his son.

By Andrew Stiefel

Ko-ichiro Yamamoto loves to dive into projects, whether he is teaching lessons over Skype at night, traveling to give master classes across the country, or writing a book about the trombone.

“Sometimes I work really, really hard,” he laughs. “And sometimes I just want to watch TV, I don't want to do anything. I have a teenage kid, he also plays trombone, and we practice together, we play video games together.”

But when the weather turns cold and snow falls on Washington’s Cascade mountains, Ko likes to go skiing as much as he can. “If the snow is good I can do the double diamond. Single black, no problem so far,” he says.

For Ko, skiing is a way to escape. “When you’re skiing, there is only one thing: go from top to bottom,” he explains. Ko follows a set of simple rules every time he starts a run: “Don't injure yourself. Number two, don't go too fast. And number three, try to be better all the time.”

He brings that same focus to his playing with the Seattle Symphony. Even after 14 seasons with the orchestra, he still revels in the experience of playing at Benaroya Hall.

“The other week we were playing Prokofiev’s Seventh Symphony. I was sitting in the orchestra, and I realized that I have the best seat in the house,” he says. “I get to hear everything on the stage and I can feel the audience's reactions to our playing. It’s unbelievable. I love those moments.”

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Posted on April 3, 2019