Nobuko Imai is considered one of the most outstanding viola players of our time. After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music and then at Yale University and Juilliard School, she won both the Munich International Competition and the Geneva International Viola Competition. Having formerly been a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Miss Imai now combines a distinguished international solo career with teaching at the High School of Music in Detmold, Germany, where she is a Professor.
She has appeared with orchestras such as the Berliner Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Vienna Symphony, Stockholm Philharmonic, London Symphony and Royat Philharmonic, the BBC orchestras, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Capitole de Toulouse, Boston Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Chicago Symphony and toured the USA with the European Community Youth Orchestra and Leinsdorf, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Several times a year she returns to Japan where she is Artistic Adviser of Casals Hall in Tokyo and where she performs with all important orchestras such as NHK and Tokyo Metropolitan. Last season Ms. Imai performed in Australia for the first time, appearing with Melbourne Symphony (Simone Young), West Australian Symphony (John Nelson).
With Midori, in 2000/2001 Nobuko Imai will perform Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with several major orchestras in USA.
Besides being a regular guest at the Marlboro Festival, Nobuko Imai also appeared at Lockenhaus, Casals, South Bank Summer Music Festival, Aldeburgh, the International Viola Congress in Houston and the BBC Proms. With Yuri Bashmet, Kim Kashkashian and Tabea Zimmermann she was one of the four violists, featuring at the International Viola Festival in Kronberg (Germany) last year.
She often performed chamber music at the New York "Y" and the list of musicians with whom she played includes such distinguished names as Gidon Kremer, Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Andràs Schiff, Isaac Stern and Pinchas Zukerman. Recently, Ms. Imai toured the USA, performing chamber music with Midori.
An impressive list of over 20 CD's shows Nobuko Imai's recordings for BIS, Chandos, EMI, Hyperion and Philips. Nobuko Imai is currently involved in a three disc project with Philips, recording all Bach works for solo string instruments, of which two have now been released. Her latest release on BIS with 20th-century pieces for viola and piano, named A Bird Came Down the Walk after Takemitsu's piece, was 4th in the top sales list of classical CD's in Japan.
On her repertoire, which contains all the main works from the viola repertoire, a prominent place is given to contemporary music. Several leading composers have written for Ms. Imai, f.i. Toru Takemitsu, who wrote a viola concerto for her, A String around Autumn and a piece for viola and piano.
In 1995/1996 Nobuko Imat was artistic leader of three Hindemith Festivals which were organised on her initiative in Tokyo, Japan, in New York at Columbia University and in London at the Wigmore Hall.
Nobuko Imai received many prizes, under which the Avon Arts Award (1993), the Education Minister's Art Prize of Music by the Japanese Agency of Culture Affairs (1994), the Mobil Prize of Japan (1995) and in 1996 the most prestigious music prize of Japan, the Suntory Hall Prize, awarded to her by an unanimous jury.
Nobuko Imai is initiator and coproducer of a series at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and in Tokyo in 1999/2000, featuring Japanese and Dutch early and contemporary music, on the occasion of 400 years relationship between these two countries. Furthermore she has recently founded the ensemble East West Baroque Academy for young music professionals, in which they can gain experience in authentic style performance practice of early music, trained by an early music specialist.
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