Praised by the New York Times for his "dynamic performance" and “polished and spirited interpretation,” cellist Ken Kubota began his musical education at the age of eight in Columbus, Ohio. Since then, he has gone on to study privately with Richard Aaron, Anthony Elliott, and Alice Ann O’Neill, and has had the opportunity to participate in master classes with greats such as Yo-Yo Ma, Frans Helmerson, and Peter Stumpf. Before earning his Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music degrees from The Juilliard School (2014 and 2016, respectively), Mr. Kubota performed with the Michigan Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Civic Youth Orchestra, where he served as principal cellist. During his time at Juilliard, he performed as principal cellist in the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra.
Mr. Kubota has performed internationally as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician in USA, Japan, France, and Switzerland, gracing stages such as Alice Tully Hall in New York City, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, Shiodome and Keyaki Hall in Tokyo, Guggenheim House and Prokofiev Hall in Kobe, and Petite Elle Studio in Osaka, among many others. In 2008, he could be heard as a featured performer on National Public Radio’s program, “From the Top.” Constantly working to expand his reach as a performer and even producer, Mr. Kubota created JHMJams, an online platform to explore music aside from his classical training and share their unique arrangements of pop and jazz tunes. Videos that Mr. Kubota has produced and starred in have been shared and acknowledged by pop heavyweights DNCE, Mike Posner, Bebe Rexha, AJR, Marc E. Bassy, Vice, Sandro Cavazza, Justin Jesso, Carlie Hanson, Alan Walker, Demi Lovato, Charlie Puth and the Chainsmokers, along with Classic FM (UK Classical Music Radio Station), The Strad (Magazine), The Violin Channel (Classical Music News Source), Glamour (Magazine) and the entertainment company Lionsgate. Mr. Kubota’s journey has been featured on National Sawdust Log’s series You Should Be Following, that highlights musicians who’ve embraced unconventional paths, explores how they got where they are, and takes a look at where they’re going.
Throughout his lifetime, Mr. Kubota has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the Irene Diamond Graduate Fellowship (Juilliard) and Detroit Symphony Orchestra Bradlin Scholarship. He has been selected as the first-place winner of several state- and nation-wide competitions prior to his training at The Juilliard School, including the Saint Paul String Quartet National Competition and the Michigan Youth Arts Festival.
Mr. Kubota has an undeniable passion for chamber music. Aside from his performance as the principal cellist in the Juilliard Chamber Orchestra, he participated in the weeklong intensive ChamberFest at Juilliard for four years. Additionally, he has participated in the inaugural Encore Chamber Music String Quartet Intensive, Madeline Island Music Camp, Caroga Lake Music Festival, The Creative Cello Summit, Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival, Blossom Music Festival, Chautauqua Music Festival, The Quartet Program, and Meadowmount School of Music. His studies of the form have led him to collaborations with world-class coaches, such as members of the Guarneri, Juilliard, Cleveland, Emerson, Cavani, and St. Lawrence String Quartets. In the summer of 2016, he brought his love and aptitude for chamber music to residents of underfunded assisted living and rehabilitation facilities in Berks County, Pennsylvania through a brilliantly received collaboration with fellow Juilliard graduates and students.
Aside from his personal studies and work as a performer, Ken Kubota has taught private lessons since 2007 and had the honor of leading a master class at College of Mount St. Joseph. He currently teaches at the Peabody Preparatory under Johns Hopkins University, Suzuki Music Schools of Westport and Orange in Connecticut, and Lucy Moses School in NYC.
Photographer: Pierre Lidar
Musician: Ken James Kubota