Noriko’s story is a tale of two homelands. Born in Japan and living in England she gracefully sits aside two cultures. Beginning her piano lessons at the age of four and receiving her formal education in Tokyo, she went on to study at the Julliard School of Music in New York. It was her teacher, Bernard Kaplin, who encouraged her to enter the Leeds International Piano Competition in 1987. Noriko was awarded Third Prize and soon established herself as an artistic force to be reckoned with. She came to prominence after ‘the Leeds’ and has appeared with all the major European, Japanese and US orchestras. She made her BBC Proms debut in 2013 with the BBC Concert Orchestra and returned a year later with the Endymion Ensemble.
As a chamber musician, Noriko has collaborated with Steven Isserlis, Isabelle van Keulen, Martin Roscoe, Peter Donohoe and Kathryn Stott. Recording exclusively on BIS, her wide ranging discography includes the complete piano music of Debussy. Her recordings of Images Books I & II were chosen as the top recommendation for their ‘exquisite delicacy’ by Stephen Walsh on BBC Radio 3’s CD Review.
An advocate of commissioning, Noriko has been involved in numerous premieres including works by Richard Dubugnon and Graham Fitkin. In 2015, as Associate Artist (alongside Peter Donohoe) for the Ravel and Rachmaninov Festival at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, Noriko premiered Le Tombeau de Rachmaninov a collection of pieces by six composers, Stephen Hough, Alan Mills, Peter Fribbins, James Francis Brown, Cecilia McDowell and Takashi Yoshimatsu.
As a cultural ambassador for Japan Noriko has brought the music of her friend, the composer Takemitsu to a worldwide audience. Some of her newly commissioned pieces for the piano have been ground-breaking, such as those by Yoshiro Kanno. In his Particle of Light the piano is combined with the Nambu Bell, whereas metal chopsticks join the piano in A Particle of Water. Noriko’s ability to capture an image or suggestion through her deftness and delicacy of touch is a trademark of her musical persona.
In Japan, Noriko acts as artistic advisor to the MUZA Kawasaki Symphony Hall. In 1999 the Japanese Ministry of Education awarded her their Art Prize in recognition of her outstanding contribution to music in Japan. Noriko’s gifts are not confined to piano playing! She is a published author in Japan and her translation into Japanese of Susan Tomes’ book, Out of Silence-a pianist’s yearbook, has been reprinted by popular demand.
Noriko is sought after as a presenter on both radio and television. As such she has appeared as a piano expert on BBC3’s coverage of the Leeds International Piano Competition and on BBC Worldwide Visionaries as an advocate of Takemitsu, as well as programmes for NHK and Nippon TV. As an adjudicator she is regularly on the judging panel of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and the Munich, Honens and Scottish International Piano Competitions. In 2018 Noriko was appointed Chairperson of the Jury for Japan’s prestigious 10th Hamamatsu International Piano Competition and the same year she was elected to the board of the World Federation of International Music Competitions. She is also a teacher and is a Fellow at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and regularly teaches masterclasses at Tokyo College of Music and the Moscow Conservatoire.
Noriko is committed to charity work. Since the devastating 2011 earthquake she has raised over £40,000 for the British Red Cross in Japan Tsunami Fund. Noriko also founded Jamie’s Concerts, a series for autistic children and parents. She is a Cultural Ambassador for the National Autistic Society.
Noriko lives in London with her partner Philip and cat, Sox. When not practising the piano she enjoys writing and cooking for friends.