University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Music and Dance


Person of Shelburne: Yutaka Kono

May 2, 2013 Filled under Our Town, People of Shelburne


For classically trained tuba player and conductor Yutaka Kono, music is a first language. He first traveled to the U.S. from Tokyo, Japan as an exchange student at the age of 16 and never left. Even as a child, Kono understood the importance of music education. Not surprisingly, he and his family have easily found their niche in Shelburne.

After high school, Kono immersed himself in more hard study, beginning his degree at Eastern New Mexico University and transferring to Bowling Green University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in music. From there, Kono received his master’s in music from the University of Minnesota. Finally, he attended the University of Texas, where he claimed a doctorate in musical arts.

While finishing his DMA, Kono taught at multiple universities in Texas. Before accepting his current position at the University of Vermont as Assistant Professor of Music and Conductor of the UVM Symphony Orchestra, he was the Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University Kingsville and Assistant Conductor of the Kingsville Symphony for six years. His most recent musical accomplishment was his coronation as conductor of the Vermont Youth Philharmonia Orchestra, one of the most outstanding orchestras in the VYOA system.

If Kono believes in anything, it’s the power of his musical community. “We have a fantastic music program at UVM,” he exclaimed. Most concerts are offered for free and Kono’s excited for a new project this summer. A band camp will give all interested high school students the opportunity to experience a glimpse of college life. Kono hopes that the many talented music students from Shelburne will join.

As swiftly as his career budded, so did his family. Kono met his wife Kathleen while he taught in Austin, Tex. Just as the two shared neighboring teaching studios, they now share two daughters, Marisa and Nadia. A proud father, Kono expressed his hopes for his eldest, “Marisa already plays violin and is a member of the VYOA Presto Program and the Vermont Suzuki Violin Program.  We hope one day they will have an orchestra program at her school.”

Kono shares his passion with the community through his participation in many organizations. Last month, the VYOA performed its spring concert. Additionally, he participated in the National Association for Music Education Convention (NAfME), and works with the International Tuba and Euphonium Association. Just last year, he moved to Shelburne with his family, and found it to be an automatic fit. “We’re hoping to live here for a long time,” Kono said.

Interests: Reading, creating music, and working in the yard. “Musicians tend to live their jobs almost 24/7…When I do have spare time, I am always with my girls,” Kono said.

Favorite movie: The Matrix

Favorite food: “My favorite food list is long, but authentic Ramen Noodles are at the very top of the list.  I really miss that from Japan,” Kono said.

Favorite Shelburne haunt: The Shelburne Farmers Market and the Shelburne Museum. Of the latter, Kono said, “I can’t wait to see the new Arts Center they’ve been building.”

Most memorable concert: Kono has participated in innumerable concerts himself, and his most memorable was conducting the Kingsville Symphony with a 15-minute notice on the music selection—Spiderman. “The Guest Conductor wanted to make a grand entrance in his costume…it definitely made for an exciting experience.”

Bucket List: Kono would love to visit France and conduct an orchestra on Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique or Saint-Saens Symphony No. 1, which he’s worked on in Vermont. “I’m really interested in late 19th century French music,” Kono said.

Last modified July 12 2013 09:56 AM

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