Biography



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Chitose Okashiro

 

 

 

 

 

One of the warmest and most deeply touching players; acclaimed as "astonishing...it's hard to believe she doesn't have an extra hand or two…a tour de force …if you want to be wowed by some staggering piano playing, have a listen. "... "an appealing colorist" ... "The luxurious and stately chords were there to generate glistening swirls of partials, which Ms. Okashiro was able to bring forward and sculpt, as if her hands had been inside the piano...brilliant…" (The New York Times), "a formidable pianist…to my utter astonishment, I was completely bowled over by it…what’s more, there’s no sense of Lisztian showmanship here, just red-raw, blood-curdling musicianship… astonishingly audacious…phenomenal talent" ( MusicWeb International, UK), "I’m still innocent enough to sit in open mouthed awe …" (American Record Guide), "She is no ordinary mortal " (Usen Music, Japan), "discovery of a major pianist" (Répertoire, France), "Her playing is always distinctive and quite extraordinary." "dazzling" "fabulous - how many hands does she have?- " (Fanfare), "Stay tuned to the idiomatic performances of Richter, Neuhaus, Okashiro, Fyodorova and Sofronitsky" (American Record Guide), "Played with Okashiro's surprising technical acumen and tasteful use of rubato, the end is ravishing. She's so incredibly poetic, even in the terrifying fast pieces, that one can't help being bowled over...unreal...terrific"... "Yet one has to admit that they (Horowitz, and the grand Russian manner, Ashkenazy) - and most others - seem slightly unseasoned. Okashiro's distinguished readings vault to the top of current listings for their uncanny insight into the body and soul of Scriabin's complexity." (In Tune), "gems" (Billboard), "...remarkable recording...Okashiro plays with unremitting intensity and virtuosity, producing showers of prismatic notes. At the end you think, 'Wow!' ....played with subtlety and gorgeous tonal effect."..."Okashiro is a virtuoso in the best sense of the term." (Boston Patriot Ledger), "a young artist of genius in the true sense of the word"... "dyed-in-the-wool Scriabin player" (Art of Record, Japan), Ms. Okashiro's extraordinary talent for interpreting and expressing a myriad of musical color has earned her an international reputation, wowing audiences across North America, Europe and Asia.

 

 

 

Ms. Okashiro's discography includes 12 CDs. Her seventh release, an adventurous recording of the Piano Transcription of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6, Pathétique, eighth and ninth releases, Sakamoto Piano Works I & II, tenth release, Mahler's Symphony No.1, Titan, and eleventh release, Beatles Piano Transcriptions were all on the hit chart in Japan. Her most recent twelfth release, Sakamoto Piano Works III, was No.1 in the charts on Amazon site in Japan, and her Sakamoto Piano Works I & II have sold approximately twenty-five thousand copies when those first went on sale in Japan. Her sixth release, Wagner Piano Transcriptions, received HMV Award in Japan, and her Mahler’s Titan piano transcription CD was chosen Recording of the Year on MusicWeb International in England. Her Tchikovsky’s Pathétique Piano Transcription received “Recommande” on Classica magazine in France, received 5 stars on Diapason magazine in France and was chosen “CD of the month” on Piano magazine in Germany. Her fifth release was her critically acclaimed all Scriabin CD featuring the world premiere recording of “The Poem of Ecstasy”, which also received “Recommande” on Repertoire magazine in France and 5 stars on Diapason magazine in France. This was a two piano version transcribed by Conus-Okashiro. It used an “over dub multi-track recording technique allowing Miss Okashiro to play both piano parts (something never before attempted in Classical world when it was released), to achieve a more colorful piano sound throughout the entirety of the instrument’s vast harmonic register. Her 13th release is going to be Scriabin’s Prometheus Symphony transcribed by herself for 1-6 pianos using over-dub recording. In other words, “she does not like ordinary projects.”

 

 

 

Her technique is as broad and vibrant as her repertoire, choosing not only to excite listeners with the standard piano repertoire, but to also bring to life the obscure piano transcriptions of symphonic works by Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Mahler and Scriabin, the unusual chamber music repertoire and classical-pops crossover repertoire, such as Beatles piano transcriptions arranged by famous classical contemporary composers of Frederic Rzewski, Feldman, Toru Takemitsu and John Cage, and piano works by Academy Award composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and premiering the works of contemporary composers. Her skill to reconstruct pop music of such a composer as Ryuichi Sakamoto to classical music with her new interpretative style and classically trained technique, reveals a new side and charm of pop music to a listener. In her recently released CD in Japan (soon to be released in worldwide), Sakamoto Piano Works 3, she composed and premiered “Homage to Ryuichi Sakamoto,” theme and variations on motifs derived from his work, Bridge, for harp, celesta, prepared piano, marimba and microtones. Sakamoto listened to it with great joy and gave her advice on mastering the recording and added his personal words to her liner notes. Her extensive discography of CD recordings has received over 300 pages reviews, completely bowled over many CD reviewers and respected critics all over the world, including Ira Rosenblum at New York Times, Paul Serotsky in UK, Alain Cochard at Diapason, France, Carsten Dürer in Germany and Kei Yosimura in Japan. In addition to her extensive discography, Ms. Okashiro has performed in many of the world's musical centers including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal, Tokyo, Argentina and Estonia among many other cities, and music festivals including Lincoln Center Summer Festival, David Oistrakh Festival, Eduard Tubin Festival, and the series, “One Hundred Pianists From Around the World” by Saitama Foundation in Tokyo, and appeared with conductors such as Alexander Vedernikov, Louis Fremaux and Olari Elts among others and with orchestras all over the world including the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Argentina National Symphony Orchestra, the Chautaqua Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Symphonique de Sherbrooke in Canada and many others.

 

 

She also has been active as piano arranger/transcriber for many years. She has ever worked with such a living American composers as John Adams, Steven Mackey, David T. Little, Christopher Rouse, Michael Daugherty and the Argentine composer Osvaldo Golijov, and arranged the works by Albert Ginastera and Elliott Carter in the music publisher, Boosey and Hawkes. Her transcriptions for chorus and piano of John Adams’ choral works drawn from his operas were premiered by conductor, Grant Gershon, and Los Angels Chorale Master on March 26th, 2017 at Walter Disney Hall in Los Angels, which received a great review by Los Angels Times. The said chorus and piano works are soon to be published by Boosey & Hawkes in three volumes. Her arrangement of Christopher Rouse’s Heimdall's Trumpet Concerto received Paul Revere Awards.

 

 

She is active not only as a recording and performing pianist, but also as a superlative record producer. She served as artistic director and producer at Pro Piano Records. Her focus as a producer is to recognize a performer's musical personality with care and sensitivity, then to find a way of capturing and reproducing that personality as faithfully and passionately as possible. Philosophy and possibility of recording by Glenn Gould inspired her to learn the essence of recording. Such stimulating experience lends her as an introspective opportunity to examine herself, the pianist, through the eyes of her own self, the producer. Thereby her various activities nourish themselves from the musical intellect which resides within her, doing their part to help her grow as a more complete and well-rounded artist.

 

 

After having released 9 CDs of her own and upon the experience of working with numerous international pianists as producer, she has established her own record company in 2002 in New York: "Château." Château’s purpose is to provide highly artistic products which pursue projects of pure interest revealing new aspects of music. Consistently operated and conducted based on the artist's own perspective and vision, the releases aim to provide listeners with more direct and profound musical contact.

 

 

Chitose Okashiro is a regular of mainstay classical stations WQXR, WNYC and WBAI New York, KDFC and KUSF San Francisco, KKGO and KUSC Los Angeles, KING Seattle, KOPB Portland, WFMT, WHPK and WNIB Chicago and NHK FM Japan. Featured on Tokyo Metropolitan TV and NHK Satellite TV during broadcasts of recitals and concerto performances throughout Japan, the constant exposure helped establish a strong media presence for her international career.

 

 

 

A native of Japan, Ms. Okashiro won numerous honors in Japanese and international competitions including The Overseas Delegation Prize, The Japan America Association's Competition, The International Chopin Competition in Texas, The Young Artists International Competition and The Pro Piano Artist of The Year Award. She received early musical education at Toho High School of Music, her Bachelor's Degree from Toho University in Tokyo, Master's Degree from The Juilliard School with Herbert Stessin, and Professional Studies Program at Manhattan School of Music under Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of legendary pianist Artur Schnabel.

 

 

"...talented, courageous and intelligent, Chitose Okashiro embodies the essence of the coming generation of keyboard redeemers: a pianist who is true to her own self and her art..."

 

---Michel Block, Pianist