Sasha Yakub featured on From The Top

In addition to placing first in a national Chinese competition and winning awards at Classics Day for Latin, Alexander “Sasha” Yakub is recognized as one of the most advanced young musicians in the country.

In February of 2016, Yakub performed on the country’s number one classical music radio broadcast for young musicians, National Public Radio’s From the Top.

“I’ve listened to the broadcast since I was 11 years old,” said Yakub. “I remember thinking about how crazy those kids were at their instruments and I thought I’d never be that good.”

As a junior in the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, one of the top youth symphonies in the country, Yakub learned about auditioning for From the Top.

He knew he had a good chance of making it, but it still felt distant.

“When I decided to audition, I wasn’t sure I would make it,” said Yakub.

“You see all those 11 year old musicians playing like prodigies, and after listening to the show for so many years it just seemed so far away. You forget that you can be an 18 year old who’s good at what he does,” he added.

Yakub’s audition took place in December 2014, where he played the first movement of the Berg Violin Concerto, and Francis Poulenc’s sonata for Violin and Piano.

Once selected for the show, choosing what he would play on air became a challenge due to Yakub’s affinity for more modern classical music and the show’s preference for Classical and Romantic pieces.

After sending all the movements of Stravinsky’s “Duo Concertante” to From the Top, they responded by saying “We’re not sure this is a piece our listeners would be comfortable hearing,” said Yakub.

“Their response surprised me and my teacher. Stravinsky isn’t very weird compared to some other composers,” he said.

On stage, Yakub said that while he loves playing Classical, Romantic and Baroque era music, he feels that “there’s a lot of 20th and 21st century classical music that’s just as beautiful and deserving.”

To him, playing new music alongside more commonly performed pieces “felt exactly right. It felt like I was there to do what I wanted to do.”

After the performance, Yakub received many favorable comments from the listeners of a show.

One audience member even told him, “I’ve never heard Stravinsky before. I loved it! Thank you for teaching me something new.”