Academic Program Affiliation(s): Bard Conservatory of Music, Bard Conservatory of Music: Graduate Instrumental Arts, Bard Conservatory of Music: Piano
Biography:Praised by the NY Times for an “impressive musicality, a crisp touch and expressive phrasing,” Japanese pianist Rieko Aizawa has performed throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe, including at New York City’s Lincoln Center, Boston's Symphony Hall, Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, and London’s Wigmore Hall.
At the age of thirteen, Ms. Aizawa was brought to the attention of conductor Alexander Schneider on the recommendation of the pianist Mitsuko Uchida. Schneider engaged Ms. Aizawa as soloist with his Brandenburg Ensemble at the opening concerts of Tokyo's Casals Hall. Later that year, Schneider presented her in U.S. début concerts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall with his New York String Orchestra. She has since established her own unique musical voice.
Highlights have included acclaimed performances with the New Japan Philharmonic under Seiji Ozawa, the English Chamber Orchestra under Heinz Holliger, the Festival Strings Lucerne in Switzerland under Rudolf Baumgartner, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra under Hugh Wolff, the Curtis Institute Orchestra with Peter Oundjian, the St. Louis Symphony under David Loebel and a wonderfully received performance with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Ms. Aizawa also has a great interest in exploring unusual repertoire. The St. Paul Pioneer Press described her performance with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra conducted by Hans Graf "the Salieri Piano Concerto in C was played so splendidly by Rieko Aizawa. Hers was a graceful reading. .... Aizawa's performance lent the work a respect it rarely receives." In the same year, she received the Washington Award.
As a recitalist, Ms. Aizawa has been heard in many North American cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, St. Louis, Seattle, Boulder, Los Angeles, Houston, and Toronto; at the Caramoor International Festival; at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival; Ravinia Festival, and the Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Following her all-Beethoven program recital in Dresden, Germany, a reviewer wrote: "Her listeners followed her playing -- full of details and delicate contrasts -- breathlessly." Ms. Aizawa gave her "Prism" series in Japan, with tributes to Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann, and specially commissioned works for each program by Akira Nishimura, Dan Coleman and Toshiro Saruya. She also had a project performing a Beethoven Piano Sonata cycle at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Ms. Aizawa performed a series of all- Mozart recitals, a project which was jointly presented by WFMT-Chicago and PianoForte Chicago. Ms. Aizawa’s solo debut recording of Scriabin’s and Shostakovich’s “24 Preludes” was released by Altus in Japan, and her second album of Messiaen's and Faure's preludes is coming out in the upcoming season.
Ms. Aizawa is also an active chamber musician. The youngest-ever participant at the Marlboro Music Festival, she has performed as a guest with string quartets such as the Guarneri Quartet and the Orion Quartet. She has appeared in numerous festivals, such as the Marlboro Music Festival; Bowdoin Festival; the Kammermusik Festival of Moritzburg, Germany; and the Evian Festival, France. She also has been a guest artist of Boston's, Philadelphia's and Seattle's Chamber Music Societies. She is a founding member of the prize-winning Duo Prism and of the Horszowski Trio, which honors the legacy of her teacher.
As a member of the Horszowski Trio, acclaimed as “the most compelling American group to come on the scene” by the New Yorker, Ms. Aizawa has recently made debuts at the 92nd St. Y in NYC, and at Wigmore Hall in London. The trio recorded the complete Robert Schumann piano trios on AVIE Records and the album was featured by Gramophone as an “exemplary performance.” Currently, they are celebrating their 10th Anniversary season with a project which takes inspiration from Schumann, commissioning three American composers from different generations: Paul Chihara, Derek Bermel and David Fulmer.
Ms. Aizawa was the last pupil of Mieczyslaw Horszowski at the Curtis Institute and she also studied with Seymour Lipkin and Peter Serkin at the Juilliard School. She lives in New York City, and she is on the faculty at the Longy School of Music of Bard College and at Brooklyn College. She became artistic director of the Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival in Colorado in 2010.
Ms. Aizawa is a Steinway Artist.
Department: Bard Conservatory of Music