World-class pianist to perform concert at Diamond Hill Methodist Church

Gohei Nishikawa, world class pianist, refuses to let his illness of dystonia keep him from performing.

On Saturday, April 26, at 4 p.m. at Diamond Hill Methodist Church, he’ll be giving a benefit concert with Nori Inoue, another pianist with dystonia, to raise funds for The Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation.

Mr. Nishikawa, a 39-year-old classical pianist, stopped performing for several years due to his illness. Once a rising young star who had performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, in 2003, he was given a shocking diagnosis which halted his career. Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder that causes painful and uncontrollable muscle spasms. Unable to use his hands normally, Mr. Nishikawa stopped performing and thought about ending his life.

“As months went by, my career seemed to be going well, but I gradually started to feel stiffness in my left hand. Then the fingers of my left hand started to curl into the palm against my will only while I played the piano,” Mr. Nishikawa said. “I tried massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, and anything I could possibly think of. But it got worse and worse. And my right hand became affected as well. Within a couple years, I couldn’t even play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

“My doctor told me I would never be able to play the piano as well as I used to for the rest of my life. I was depressed and thought about ending my life. But I was determined to play the piano again,” said Mr. Nishikawa.

He decided to do whatever it took to play again and help others with dystonia. While he underwent rehab, he realized that he could create his own way of playing the piano without utilizing all his fingers.

“It was not easy for me to forget everything that I had gained from practicing day and night every day for almost two decades. But when I broke the routine, I was able to move on,” Mr. Nishikawa said.

Today, he’s made major strides, though he still does not have the full use of his hands.

The Diamond Hill United Methodist Church is located at 521 East Putnam Avenue. For more information, visit Diamondhillumc.com, or call 203-869-9212.

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