nanae yoshimura

Nanae Yoshimura was born in Tokyo, and began to study the koto with her mother from the age of three, receiving her teaching license with the Matsu-no-mi Kai of Ikuta-school koto performance at the age of sixteen. She studied the classical repertoire for koto and jiuta shamisen with Soju Nosaka of the Kyushu lineage, and contemporary works for koto and nijugen (21-stringed koto) with Nosaka’s daughter, Nosaka Keiko. She has been especially active as a specialist on the latter instrument since the early 1970s, always in search of new possibilities for musical expression and extending the horizons of the instrument.

She made her debut at the age of 22 in 1972, winning the Encouragement Award at the Newcomer Competition for specialists in Japanese traditional music. She became a member of Pro Musica Nipponia in the same year, and has since traveled on 15 foreign tours with them; she now performs with them as a soloist and in a concert-master-like capacity. As a member of the group she has been awarded many prizes, including the Ongaku-no-tomo Sha Prize, the Remy Martin Prize, and the Mobil Music Prize.

On the nijugen, she was a founding member of Nosaka Keiko’s group ‘Nijugen École’ (1975), which held seven recitals which included newly commissioned pieces from that year until 1982.

The group ‘Gaku’ (shakuhachi and three koto) gave ten concerts of works commissioned by herself and the shakuhachi player Mitsuhashi Kifu in 1976–83. The group produced a record (ALM label) and was awarded the 1981 Osaka Cultural Festival Prize.

She was awarded first prize at the Modern Japanese Music Competition of the Pan Music Festival in 1979, and has held nijugen recitals at approx. 18-month intervals since, developing a standard repertoire for the instrument (including works by Miki Minoru, etc.). Some of these can be heard on her Japanese Music Performer’s Best Take series CD published by Victor in 1998.

Since 1988 she has held recitals of newly–commissioned works produced in collaboration with composers of her own generation (Akira Nishimura, Takashi Yoshimatsu, Tokuhide Niimi, Somei Sato, Shin'ichiro Ikebe), the senior generation (Joji Yuasa, Minao, Maki Ishii) and the junior generation (Satoshi Minami, Toshiro Saruya, Ken Ito). Her efforts have been awarded repeatedly: the Arts Festival Prize awarded by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (1992), the 3rd Idemitsu Music Prize (1993), the Japan Arts Foundation Prize (1994), and the Kenzo Nakajima Music Prize (1999). Works commissioned in this series have been recorded on five CDs on the Camerata Tokyo label.

Since she was first invited to the Asia Pacific Festival in New Zealand (1984), she has given solo recitals and joint recitals with Kifu Mitsuhashi overseas in major cities in Asia, America, the Near East and Europe.

She appeared as nijugen soloist in the world premiere of Minoru Miki’s opera Joruri in St. Louis (1986), soloist with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra in their 1991 appearance at the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, and nijugen soloist in the no opera Susanoo (Hiroshi Teshigawara and Maki Ishii) at the 1994 Avignon Festival.

She has appeared with orchestras both within Japan and overseas as soloist in concertos for the nijugen by Akira Nishimura, Minoru Miki, Tokuhide Niimi, etc.

She is also involved in the education of the younger generation of musicians, having collaborated with performers and composers in their 20s and 30s in the ‘Hogaku-ten’ (‘Japanese Music Exhibition’) since 1997.