Akiko Suwanai（Violin / Artistic Director of International Music Festival NIPPON 2020）
Akiko Suwanai was the youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990. She has performed with the world’s foremost orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, and Berlin Philharmonic, under the batons of Ozawa, Maazel, Dutoit, Sawallisch, and Gergiev just to name a few. She has appeared in numerous international music festivals including the BBC Proms, Schleswig-Holstein, Lucerne and others. Suwanai was a jury member of the violin divisions of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium in 2012 and 2015, and of the Concours International Long-Thibaud-Crespin in 2018. Since 2012, Akiko Suwanai has been Artistic Director of the International Music Festival NIPPON, which she plans and produces. She has released 14 CDs on the Decca label.
Akiko Suwanai studied at Toho Gakuen Music High School and completed the Soloists’ Diploma Course of Toho Gakuen College of Music. After studying at the Juilliard School and Columbia University on the Artist Overseas Training program sponsored by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, she received a master’s degree in Music from the Juilliard School. She also studied at the Universität der Künste Berlin.
Akiko Suwanai performs on the “Charles Reade” Guarneri del Gesu violin c1732, on long-term loan from Dr. Ryuji Ueno, who has Japanese roots and lives in the U.S.
At the age of 13, Kyoko Yonemoto became the youngest-ever prizewinner at the 1997 Paganini Competition in Italy. She later received numerous prizes including first prize in the Paganini Moscow International Competition. In addition to appearing with major orchestras inside and outside Japan, Yonemoto has earned high praise as a chamber musician. She is currently a professor at the Maastricht Conservatorium in the Netherlands. Her CD Ysaÿe: Complete Sonatas for Violin received the Excellence Award a recipient of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Kyoko Yonemoto plays a 1727 Stradivarius violin, on loan from the Suntory Foundation for Arts.
Rei Tsujimoto, principal cellist of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, is a premier prix graduate of Tokyo University of the Arts. He continued his studies at the Sibelius Academy in Finland and Hochschule der Künste Bern in Switzerland. He was awarded second place as well as the Audience Award at the 72nd Music Competition of Japan. In 2007. In 2009, he was granted third place at The Gaspar Cassado International Violoncello Competition.
Yasuhiro Suzuki is a principal solo violist with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra. He began studying the violin at the age of five, and graduated from Toho Gakuen College of Music after studying at Toho Gakuen Music High School. After graduation, he changed instruments from the violin to the viola. Suzuki has won many prizes, including 1st Prize in the high school division of the Tokyo round of the 7th Student Music Concours of Japan. Suzuki trained at the Karajan Academy in Germany starting in 2001, and became an associate member of the Berlin Philharmonic. His wide-ranging activities also include appearances at the Saito Kinen Festival and the Miyazaki International Music Festival.
Tomoki Sakata won 1st Prize, along with six special prizes, in the 2016 Franz Liszt International Piano Competition in Budapest. He was the youngest prizewinner in the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. He has also won the Grand Prix as well as five other prizes (including the audience prize) in the special category of the PTNA Piano Competition, the special prize for interpretation of a Mozart work in the Cleveland International Piano Competition, and 1st Prize and Audience Prize in the Kissinger Piano Olympics. Having studied at Tokyo University of the Arts, Sakata is currently a student in the soloist course (piano) of the Hochschule fur Musik in Hannover. He has also studied at the Lake Como International Piano Academy. Sakata was awarded the Culture and Art Incentive Prize of the 2017 Yokohama Culture Awards.
Having graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts, Tomohiro Arita is currently enrolled in the master’s course at the Hanns Eisler College of Music in Berlin, and is also a student at the Academy of the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin. Arita trained as an academy student at the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in the 2017-2019 seasons and performed in concerts on the orchestra’s tours in Europe and Asia. While studying at Tokyo University of the Arts, he performed as a soloist with the Geidai Philharmonia Orchestra, Tokyo. He has performed in the BBC Proms, Verbier Music Festival, and Lucerne Music Festival.
Michiaki Ueno has won 1st Prizes in the International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians, the Romanian International Music Competition, and the Johannes Brahms International Competition (cello category), as well as 2nd Prize in the Witold Lutoslawski International Cello Competition. He has performed with many artists and orchestras both in Japan and overseas, earning favorable recognition. He has also been awarded the Iwatani Tokiko Incentive Award and the Aoyama Music Awards New Face Award. Ueno studied with Hakuro Mori on a Soloist Diploma scholarship in the Toho Gakuen College Music Department, and currently studies with Pieter Wispelwey at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Dusseldorf. A P.A. Testore cello has been loaned to him from the Munetsugu Collection.
Sumihisa Arima develops activities traversing various genres such as contemporary music and improvisation with a focus on acoustic expression using electronics and computer. He won the New Face Award in the development of the arts category of the 63rd Minister of Education Award for Fine Arts, and the 13rd Keizo Saji Prize. Currently Arima is an associate professor in the Faculty of Human Science at Tezukayama Gakuin University, and a part-time lecturer at Kyoto City University of Arts.