by Taisuke Yoshida
by Marco Borggreve
This Academy is for six young violists from Japan and Asia
who will study together and stimulate each other
toward enhancing their performance skills as violists.
This Academy opens twice a year,
in September and November, running for three days each time.
Students are required to attend all six days.
They will study with more than two faculties.
With her exceptional talent, musical integrity, and charisma, Nobuko Imai is considered to be one of the most outstanding violist of our time.
After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the prestigious international competition in Munich and Geneva. Formerly a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Ms. Imai now combines a distinguished international solo career. She has appeared with many of the wolrd’s prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw, the London, Boston, and Chicago Symphony, among many others.
A keen chamber musician, Ms. Imai has often performed with world’s renowned artists including Gidon Kremer, Midori, Mischa Maisky, Yo Yo Ma, Andràs Schiff, and Martha Argerich. In 2003, Nobuko Imai formed the Michelangelo Quartet. Ms. Imai is also a frequent guest at numerous world’s most distinguished music festivals, including Marlboro, Pablo Casals in Prado, Ravinia, and Verbier.
Nobuko Imai has dedicated a large part of her artistic activities to explore the diverse potential of the viola. In 1992 she founded the annual “Viola Space” project which is dedicated to “celebrating the viola, introducing outstanding works and new works for viola”. She is also keen to expand the viola repertoire and has given a number of first performances of the composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Toshio Hosokawa, Ichiro Nodaira, Michael Tippett, among others.
In 1995/1996 Nobuko Imai was artistic director of three Hindemith Festivals in London, New York, and Tokyo. In 2009 she founded The Tokyo International Viola Competition as a part of Viola Space. From 2011, she is the music adviser of the Phoenex Hall in Osaka.
An impressive discography of over 40 CDs shows Nobuko Imai’s recordings for prestigious labels such as Philippe, BIS, Deutsche Grammophone.
Her many prizes include the Avon Arts Award, the Education Minister’s Art Prize for Music awarded by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs, the Mobil Prize, the Suntory Music Prize, and the Mainichi Art Prize. Ms. Imai received the Purple Ribbon Medal and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette from the Japanese government.
Ms. Imai is a professor at Amsterdam Conservatory, Kronberg International Academy, and Queen Sofia College of Music in Madrid. She is also a professor extraordinarius at Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo and a guest professor at Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
Ryo Sasaki, Principal Violist with NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan was born in Saitama Japan. Ryo Sasaki is the winner of several prestigious competitions including first prize in the Tokyo Contemporary Chamber Music competition and second prize in the Tokyo International Chamber Music competition.
After graduating from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, he moved to New York, and studied with Dorothy Delay and Masao Kawasaki at The Juilliard School.
While he was in the United States, he was active as a chamber musician, touring Korea with the Sejong Soloists, the ensemble whom he began playing the Viola. He also participated in Marlboro and Aspen Music Festival.
Mr. Sasaki went back to Japan in 2003 to join the NHK Symphony Orchestra and became the Principal Violist in 2008.
Since his come back in Japan, he has remained active as both Soloist and Chamber Musician. He performs regularly with the Viola Space Festival in Tokyo which is run by its music director Nobuko Imai and Antoine Tamestit.
He also made his recital debut in Tokyo in 2012 which was met by critical acclaim.
He is a faculty member of Toho Gakuen School of Music.
Born in Tokyo in 1965. He studied at the Tokyo National University of the Arts ("Geidai") under Prof. Humiki Asazuma Prof.Junji Suganuma. While in university, he was awarded the Ataka prize and became the principal viola player of Shinsei philharmony (Tokyo Philharmony orchestra) until 1992. He is member of Sawa quartett, Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra Tokyo and Tokyo Kreis Ensemble. For the past several year has given regular viola seminars in Monbetsu. He is an associate professor of Tokyo National University of the Arts.
1997 CDs The Last Chamber Music by Isang Yun (SAWA QUARTET with Seiki Shinohe and Yo Shibayama), Camerata Tokyo.
1999 CDs Smetana:Quartet in E minor,"For my life".
Dvorak:Quartet in F major,Op.96"American" (SAWA QUARTET),LIVE NOTES.
2017 CDs Schubert:Quartet in D minor,”Death and Maiden” D810.
Quartet in A minor”Rosamunde” D804 (SAWA QUARTET),Octavia Records.
2018 CDs Brahms:2 Songs op.91 for Contralto Viola and Piano (with Maki Ishii and Seiya Hirashima),TAKT MUSIC.