Nobuko Imai

Lærer/ festivalutøver
Nobuko Imai C Fumiaki Fujimoto C Oji Hall

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. The quartet gained the international reputation quickly and now became one of finest quartets in the world. 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 Vytautas Barkauskas, Dai Fujikura, Hikaru Hayashi, Toshio Hosokawa, Akira Nishimura, Misato Mochizuki, Ichiro Nodaira, Toru Takemitsu, Michael Tippett, among others.

In 1995/1996 Nobuko Imai was artistic director of three Hindemith Festivals in London, New York, and Tokyo and have received highly international acclaim. She was initiator and co-producer of a series in Amsterdam and Tokyo in 1999/2000, celebrating the 400th anniversary of  the relationship between the two countries. In 2009 she founded The Tokyo International Viola Competition as a part of Viola Space, the first international competition in Japan exclusively for viola. 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 BIS, Chandos, 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 (2003) and the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette (2013) 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.