of International Music Festival
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.
Tadaaki Otaka C.B.E.（Conductor）
Music Director --- Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra
Permanent Conductor --- NHK Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Laureate --- BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Honorary Music Director --- Sapporo Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Laureate --- Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
Honorary Guest Conductor --- Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra
Honorary Conductor Laureate --- Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra Tokyo
Born in 1947, OTAKA studied at Toho Gakuen School of Music under Hideo SAITO, a professor known for teaching Seiji Ozawa and Hiroshi Wakasugi. He then moved to Vienna to study with Hans Swarowsky and Spannagel.
As Japan’s leading conductor, OTAKA conducted all major Japanese Orchestras. He is also a popular figure throughout the world particularly in the UK, where he is invited as Guest Conductor to the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony etc. He made his Proms debut with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in 1988. He also received invitations to the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Philharmonic and many others.
In 1993, the Welsh College of Music and Drama conferred an Honorary Fellowship on OTAKA. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Wales. In 1997, he was awarded the CBE, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British musical life. He is also the first Japanese to receive the Elgar Medal in 1999, for his continuous efforts at spreading the works by Elgar outside the UK.
NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo（Orchestra）
The history of the NHK Symphony Orchestra dates back to 1926, when a professional orchestra called the New Symphony Orchestra was formed. Later, after being called the Japan Symphony Orchestra, it was renamed the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 1951. To date, the orchestra has invited one world-renowned conductor after another, including famous historical performances from Herbert von Karajan, Ernest Ansermet, Joseph Keilberth, and Lovro von Matačić to name a few.
In recent years, the orchestra has presented approximately 120 concerts nationwide including 54 annual subscription concerts (NHK Hall, Suntory Hall). It has also won world-wide acclaim for its overseas tours, including its first appearance in the Salzburg Festival in August 2013 and its European tour of 9 major cities including Berlin and Vienna in the spring of 2020.
Current conductors who are closely associated with the NHK Symphony Orchestra include Chief Conductor Paavo Järvi, Music Director Emeritus Charles Dutoit, Honorary Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, Conductor Laureate Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Permanent Conductors Yuzo Toyama and Tadaaki Otaka.
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.