March 9 and 13 2023

Commemorative Concert of the 51st Suntory Music Award
Hisako Kawamura (Piano)

Recipient of the 51st Suntory Music Award, German-based Japanese pianist Hisako Kawamura gives two concerts in March to mark her award. Both programmes, a chamber music concert with the Doric String Quartet (March 9) and an evening of concertos with Kazuki Yamada and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (March 13), will highlight the music of forgotten women composers, Rebecca Clarke and Amy Beach, along with works by Schumann, Brahms, and Akio Yashiro.
▼ Details & Booking ▼ Biography ▼ About the Suntory Music Award

Hisako Kawamura ©Marco Borggreve

■Chamber Music

THURSDAY, MARCH 9 2023 | 19:00 (Doors open 18:20) > Book Now

Akio Yashiro (1929–1976): Piano Sonata
Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979): Piano Trio
Robert Schumann (1810–1856): Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44

Hisako Kawamura, Piano
Doric String Quartet

Doric String Quartet ©George Garnier


MONDAY, MARCH 13 2023 | 19:00 (Doors open 18:00) > Book Now

Amy Beach (1867–1944): Bal Masque, Op. 22
Amy Beach: Piano Concerto in C-sharp Minor, Op. 45
Johannes Brahms (1833–1897): Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 83

Hisako Kawamura, Piano
Kazuki Yamada, Conductor
Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra

Hisako Kawamura and Kazuki Yamada

Presented by Suntory Hall / Supported by Suntory Holdings Limited


Hisako Kawamura

Born in Nishinomiya (Japan), Hisako Kawamura moved to Düsseldorf (Germany) with her family at the age of 5 where she started studying piano with Kyoko Sawano. She continued her studies with Małgorzata Bator-Schreiber in Göttingen who provided her with musical and artistic training, and Prof. Vladimir Krainev at the Hannover University of Music and Drama who nurtured the development of her artistic personality.

Kawamura's international concert career kick-started with First Prizes at the Concours Clara Haskil in Vevey, the A. Casagrande International Piano Competition in Terni, the G.B. Viotti International Music Competition in Vercelli and the European Chopin Competition in Darmstadt. She also had outstanding successes at renowned international piano competitions as a prizewinner at the Concours Geza Anda in Zurich, the ARD International Music Competition in Munich and the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Brussels.

In 2017, Kawamura performed Saint-Saënsʼ Second Concerto with NHK Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Järvi. Following the success of this concert, she was invited back to perform Akio Yashiro's Piano Concerto with the NHK Symphony Orchestra under Kazuki Yamada in 2019.

Kawamura has performed with orchestras including Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Symphony Orchestra Moscow, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Kyoto City Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductors Jiří Bělohlávek, Vladimir Fedosseyev, Junichi Hirokami, Eliahu Inbal, Paavo Järvi, Marek Janowski, Zoltán Kocsis, Alexander Lazarev, Mikhail Pletnev, Tatsuya Shimono, Yuri Temirkanov and Kazuki Yamda, among others.

As a soloist, Kawamura has participated in major music festivals such as Klavierfestival Ruhr (Germany), Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Germany), Klavierwoche Ernen (Switzerland), Festival Auvers-sur-Oise (France), the Chopin Festival Duszniki-Zdroj (Poland), Spring-Festival in Tokyo and La folle journée Tokyo.

As an avid and sensitive chamber musician Kawamura performs regularly with cellists Clemens Hagen, Maximilian Hornung and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi.

Her first recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas (which was her sixth with RCA Red Seal) was released in April 2019. This album was the first volume of her on-going Beethoven piano sonata recording project, and included 'Pathétique' and 'Moonlight' sonatas among others, to be followed by the second installment of the project including 'Waldstein' and 'Appassionata' sonatas in October 2019. Her previous albums with the label were also critically acclaimed, and they include 'Chopin: 24 Préludes & Polonaise-Fantasie', 'Rachmaninoff- Album', 'Chopin: Balladesʼ, 'Chopin: Sonata No. 3 and Schumann Humoreske' and 'Notturno'.

Kawamura’s recordings for other labels include works by Mozart, Schubert and Prokofiev (DiscAuvers), works by Schubert and Schumann (audite), works by Scarlatti, Debussy and Franck (Edition Klavierfestival Ruhr), Schumann's Piano Quintet (Nippon Columbia), Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra under Junichi Hirokami (Kyoto Symphony Orchestra label), Mozart's Piano Concerto KV 467 with the Argovia Philharmonic under Douglas Bostock (Coviello Classics).

The soundtrack of the Japanese movie 'LISTEN TO THE UNIVERSE' (Japanese title 'Mitsubachi to Enrai') released by Sony Music Labels, features Kawamura as a soloist performing for the lead character of the movie, Aya Eiden. Based on the novel of the same name by Riku Onda, the film tells a story of an international piano competition.

Kawamura has been awarded numerous scholarships from prestigious organizations such as the European Yamaha Foundation, Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben and the Rohm Music Foundation.

In Japan, Kawamuraʼs musical activity has been recognized by the prestigious Art Encouragement Prize for New Artists of Music by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. She was also awarded three important music prizes in 2009: the Fresh Artist Music Prize from the Nippon Steel Corporation, the IDEMITSU Music Prize from Idemitsu Kosan and the Prize of the Chopin Society Japan. Kawamura received also the Iue-Culture and Art Prize from Iue Memorial Foundation and the Hotel Okura Music Prize.

2020, Kawamura received the 51. Suntory Music Award. Moreover she got the 12.CD Shop Award and the Music Penclub Japan Award both in the category Classic.

Committed to sharing her musical experience with the next generation Kawamura holds a professorship at the Folkwang University of Arts in Essen (Germany) and teaches masterclasses at the Tokyo College of Music.

The Suntory Music Award

In the Suntory Award Ceremony (October 14 2020)

Suntory Music Award, which is presented to individuals or ensembles for notable contributions to the development of Western-style music in Japan by the Suntory Foundation for the Arts*.

About the 51st Award

It is not particularly difficult to put forward the name of one of today’s outstanding Japanese pianists. Nevertheless, how many people are truly capable of playing music with the richness of expression and the humanity of Hisako Kawamura?
Her performances are characterized by meticulous architectural design, but what is most surprising is the way she builds on this foundation with countless flashes of inspiration, underpinned by catlike agility, leading to one explosion of moments replete with vitality and musicality after another. Every phrase, every forte, every crescendo is imbued with such distinct intent and emotion that one clearly understands how she is interpreting the music and her approach to it. Her performances remind the listener that music is a sort of movement, a living thing of some kind.
In 2019, as well as completing a series of signature performances for the Beethoven Piano Sonata Project, Hisako Kawamura released “Beethoven Piano Sonatas 1 and 2” with RCA. Of particular note in her performances were the elasticity of No.29, and the mystical joy of No. 32, whereas in her CD recordings, the exquisiteness of No.18 and her protean interpretation of No. 8, amongst others, give an impression of the richness of the results. In addition, in her performance of Akio Yashiro’s “Piano Concerto” with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kazuki Yamada, she deploys tonal diversity and rhythmic sensitivity to the full, opening new possibilities in the performance of contemporary works.
At the qualifying round, while every member of the selection committee acknowledged the way her performances spoke to the listener, some of the opinions advanced included the point that her rendering of Beethoven's later works may yet have room for further refinement. Ultimately, however, there was general agreement on the remarkable richness of her recent years, and on the possibility of further significant progression in the future.
For these reasons, it was judged that the musical accomplishments of Hisako Kawamura in 2019 make her a worthy recipient of the 51st Suntory Music Award.
(Yuji Numano, Selection Committee Member)

* Suntory Foundation for the Arts
Founded in September 2009 to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Suntory's founding. The foundation's mission is to uncover new globally significant aesthetic expressions informed by a unique Japanese sensibility toward beauty and art that has been cultivated for generations and introduce them to a global audience, as well as to seek ways of creating and expressing new values in art and music with the goal of sharing these values with the global community in the 21st century.
Suntory Group CSR

In the Suntory Award Ceremony (October 14 2020)
Performance in the Ceremony