Review of baritone Takaoki Onishi with Arlene Shrut on piano, presented by the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota “Takaoki Onishi Embraces Sarasota Audience”

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“Takaoki Onishi Embraces Sarasota Audience”

Lisa Yellin and Kenney DeCamp

Those of us fortunate enough to find ourselves at the Historic Asolo Theater Artist Series Concert on a very busy Saturday night in Sarasota were not disappointed. Baritone Takaoki Onishi performed a wide-ranging operatic concert to the audience’s delight. By the time he finished by singing his favorite American song as an encore, Embraceable You, the audience felt his vocal embrace. Mr. Onishi’s accolades are plenty. He has been described as a rising star among baritones of his generation and has been awarded the top prize at the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, first prize in both the Licia Albanese-Puccini International Vocal Competition and the Opera Index, Inc Vocal Competition among others. Sarasota is extremely fortunate to have Mr. Onishi perform at our glorious theater.

Mr. Onishi was accompanied by accomplished collaborative pianist Arlene Shrut, a member of The Julliard School’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts’ Senior Coaching Faculty at Manhattan School of Music. For the past 14 summers she has been on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival where she has taught classes and coached productions. She has performed across America, Canada and Europe and also been a pianist, vocal coach and teacher for collaborative pianists at many world acclaimed institutes to include but not be limited to the Vancouver International Song Institute, Greensboro Light Opera and Song and Songfest in Malibu. The New York Times has described her as a “strong and sensitive pianist.”

Together they performed Handel, Schubert, Strauss, Ravel and Verdi among others. The baritone range of Mr. Onishi’s voice filled the hall and touched everyone in the audience; his stage presence was well beyond his youthful years. Ms. Shrut’s piano accompanied with soft delicate sounds as well as rolled into exquisite and forceful accents. The rapport between Mr. Onishi and Ms. Shrut was evident. You could see and feel their nonverbal connection throughout the evening’s performance. Though they have played together on many occasions, after the performance Ms. Shrut explained to us that this was her first full concert as his accompanist.

After his two performances in Sarasota, Mr. Onishi is off to New York’s Carnegie Hall to make his debut as the baritone soloist in Vaughan Williams’ HODIE with The Cecilia Chorus. He will be joining the Ryan Opera Center of the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the 2015-16 season. The Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota series presentations are intimate and well worth attending.



Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota presents

Takaoki Onishi

With Arlene Shrut on Piano

December 6 and 7 • Historic Asolo Theater

This rising young star of the opera world joins forces with acclaimed pianist Arlene Shrut for two evenings of inspired interpretations of works by Ravel, Korngold and Rossini.

(Sarasota, Florida) Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota presents the rising young , Takaoki Onishi, with Arlene Shrut on piano, Saturday, December 6, 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, December 7, 7:30 p.m., at the Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. The concert will feature works by Ravel (“Don Quichotte a Dulcinee”); Korngold (“Tanzlied” from “Die Tote Stadt”); and Rossini (“Largo al factotum della citta” from “Il Barbiere di Seviglia”). Tickets are $25 to $45 and can be purchased online at or by calling 941-360-7399.        

Tokyo native Takaoki Onishi is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most promising baritones of his generation. He’s been awarded top prizes at the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition, the Opera Index Vocal Competition, the Licia Albanese-Puccini International Vocal Competition and the Loren L. Zachary Competition. In 2013, Onishi created the leading male role in the successful world premiere of Marty Regan’s opera, “The Memory Stone,” which was presented by the Houston Grand Opera’s East/West program. Along with his operatic roles, Onishi devotes time to his concert and song repertoire, and appears as a soloist in concerts around the world. For more information, visit

Arlene Shrut is a collaborative pianist with a flair for the visionary who combines tradition with transformation. She is also founder and artistic director of New Triad for Collaborative Arts, an innovative educational and arts service organization. Shrut is a senior coach at the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts of the Juilliard School and a vocal-piano recital faculty coach at the Manhattan School of Music. In addition to successfully coaching emerging vocal artists, Shrut is also an admired keyboard artist, hailed by The New York Times as a “strong and sensitive pianist.”

Since 1996, Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota has presented an ever-expanding annual season of concerts by globally renowned and celebrated emerging artists. The 2014-2015 season runs through May 2015 and includes six concerts in its “Classical Recital Series,” four concerts in its “Pop Series,” and three special concerts. Three “Lunch, Look and Listen” events are also scheduled. For more information about the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota’s 2014-2015 season, visit or call 941-306-1202.

The 2014-2015 Season at a Glance

Classical Recital Series

Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. at the Historic Asolo Theater; 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.

  • Adrian Anantawan, violin, and Amy Yang, piano, performing works by Brahms, Ravel and Mozart. January 31 and February 1.
  • Ying Quartet with Ayano Ninomiya, violin, Janet Ying, violin, Phillip Ying, viola, and David Ying, cello, performing works by Haydn, Auerbach, and Beethoven. March 14 and 15.
  • Bion Tsang, cello, and Adam Neiman, piano, performing works by Faure, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. April 18 and 19.
  • Adrienne Danrich, vocalist, and Djordje Nesic, May 30 and 31.

Pop Series

At the Historic Asolo Theater; 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.

  • “Into the Night with Gershwin”: The Music of George Gershwin and Marvin Hamlisch” with Thomas Pandolfi, piano. February 28, 7:30 p.m., and March 1, 2 and 7:30 p.m.
  • Trumpet Invasion” with Brandon Ridenour, trumpet, Mara Bonde, soprano, and Rich Ridenour, piano. May 2, 7:30 p.m., and May 3, 2 and 7:30 p.m.
  • “A Romp With Gilbert & Sullivan” with Tracy Olivera, soprano, Bob McDonald, baritone, Steve Cramer, tenor, Joseph Holt, piano, and the Gloria Musicae Singers performing highlights from “Pirates” “The Mikado,” and “Pinafore.” May 9, 7:30 p.m., and May 10, 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Lunch, Look and Listen

One-hour concerts at 11 a.m. followed by lunch at 12:15 p.m. At Michael’s On East Ballroom, 1212 East Avenue South, Sarasota.

  • Trio Voila with Thomas Koch, guitar, Jane Hoffman, flute, and Laura Jensen Jennings, viola, performing works by Beethoven, Johanson, and Willis. January 22.
  • Best Of The Great American Songbook” with Jennifer Sheehan, cabaret/theater singer, and James Followell, piano, performing songs by Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim and more. February 12.
  • Samus Haddad, baritone, and Lee Dougherty Ross, piano, performing spirituals and songs by Weill and Hoiby. March 19.

Soiree Series

Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. and Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. At the Weisenborne/Fischer residence. Call for address.

  • Jennifer Kim, classical guitar. April 26 and 27.

Special Performances

At the Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.

  • “A Broadway Holiday” with Will & Anthony Nunziata, cabaret singers, Gloria Musicae Singers and Alvin Hough, Jr., piano, performing holiday songs. December 20, 7:30 p.m., and December 21, 2 and 7:30 p.m.
  • 2015 Edvard Grieg Festival in Florida, featuring three concerts of lesser-known works performed by Alan Dunbar, bass-baritone, Gregory Martin, piano, the Gloria Musicae Singers, under the direction of Joseph Holt, Antonio Pompa-Baldi, piano,
  • Njål Sparbo, bass-baritone, and Einar Røttingen, piano. Also featuring lectures, presentations, an exhibit of Grieg’s manuscripts, and a competition for prizes that include a concert tour in Norway. January 9-11. For a complete listing of all events, visit


Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota

Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota was formed in 1996 as the Artist Series of Sarasota. The group is a non-profit corporation based in Sarasota, FL, that prides itself on presenting several major national and international varieties of concert, opera, orchestral, Broadway and film performances throughout their season. The majority of the performances are staged at the restored Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling.

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