Valery Gergiev loses a major patron

Russian media have announced the death of Countess Yoko Nagae Ceschina, a Japanese harpist who married a wealthy Italian businessman and spent much of his $190 million inheritance on classical music projects.

She provided the funding for the New York Philharmonic’s spectacularly ill-advised visit to North Korea in 2008 and she became one of Gergiev’s most reliable supporters. She also bought a violin for Maxim Vengerov. Two months ago, she received a state honour from Vladimir Putin.


gergiev yoko

photo (c) Lebrecht Music&Arts



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  • Prokofiev enthusiasts have good reason to be grateful for her support in funding the live LSO/Gergiev recordings of the complete symphonies, performed in May 2004 at the Barbican and released on Philips.

  • It would be nice if a person like this could be heralded for all the good she did for the world of music. The reality is that Gergiev wasn’t the only one to lose a patron, the entire world of classical music lost someone who deeply cared. She gave millions upon millions to the New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall and countless artists. She was someone other wealthy people with a passion for classical music should emulate. She was also a decent and caring human being. There’s a time for headlines with limited information and a photo and there’s a time for obituaries. Perhaps an obituary would have been more appropriate. Please consider investing some time in reporting on someone of this caliber.

  • She was generous, warm, giving and caring human being. I was privileged to spend some great moments with Madame Yoko and will be forever grateful for great musical moments she made possible.
    I think it is more than appropriate to paste here the obituary published today on Gergiev’s FB wall. (

    Valery Gergiev and all at the Mariinsky Theatre express their condolences on the death of Countess Yoko Nagae Ceschina (1932 — 2015):
    Countess Yoko Nagae Ceschina was more than just a friend and partner of the Mariinsky Theatre — she was also a true fan of great Russian culture. She invariably attended all of our key events, into which she invested her heart and soul. These included a world premiere by living classic Rodion Shchedrin at the Mariinsky Theatre, a concert by the Mariinsky Orchestra in her native city of Kumamoto, charity concerts in aid of the victims of the tragedy in Beslan, a concert in memory of the victims of an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power-station organised on her and Valery Gergiev’s joint initiative in Tokyo, a tour by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Lorin Maazel to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and, of course, a concert in memory of the victims of the ruined city of Tskhinvali…
    Thanks to her invaluable support, countless fans of the music of Russian composers across the globe, from Japan to the USA, have had the opportunity to witness first-class performances and discover and come to love Russian culture.
    The acoustically perfect Mariinsky Concert Hall — one of the finest venues in the world — was another of Yoko Nagae Ceschina’s achievements. Numerous audio and video projects of the Mariinsky Label that have been released internationally were also made possible thanks to her support.
    Yoko Nagae Ceschina also gave her active support to projects within Russia, on several occasions taking part in the marathon-like Moscow Easter Festival which she adored so much and the Stars of the White Nights major international festival. She personally attended concerts in Vladivostok, Vladikavkaz, Khabarovsk, Kazan, Astana and Kiev, and she dreamed of visiting Baikal and Kamchatka — not to mention her dozens and dozens of visits to Moscow and St Petersburg. As a professional harp-player, Yoko Nagae Ceschina considered the Mariinsky Orchestra as her “home” orchestra and her family.
    On the Day of National Unity, the President of the Russian Federation presented Yoko Nagae Ceschina, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mariinsky Theatre, with the Order of Friendship for her tremendous contribution to promoting Russian culture abroad and her charitable activities.
    Yoko Nagae Ceschina’s death is a devastating loss for all of Russia. We deeply mourn her loss.
    Valery Gergiev and all at the Mariinsky Theatre

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