Naoko Takada was born in Tokyo, Japan. She won First Prize in the Young Concert Artist International Audition and also awarded the Beracasa Foundation Prize. She had a debut at the Tokyo Opera City Recital Hall, Tokyo, 92nd Street Y in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and the Gardena Museum in Boston. Her successful recitals were reviewed in many newspapers and magazines. Her other awards include First Prize in the nationally known Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition, the Sorantin Young Artist award International competition, and the Japan International League of Artists Competition.
Her past solo appearances include WQXR (NY radio), WGBH (Boston radio) and RTHK (Hong Kong radio) and performances at the Alice Tully Hall, the Merkin Hall in New York, the Tokyo Opera City Great Hall. This summer she will have a solo recital at the Suntory Hall in Japan. At PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) in 1997, she was selected to play Reflections on the Nature of Water by Jacob Druckman at the William Moersch Master Class; and at PASIC 1999, her duo, “Chris and Naoko,” was one of four finalists who performed at the convention. In 2000, she won the PASIC Thomas Siwe Scholarship. This November she will have a showcase concert at PASIC in Kentucky, sponsored by Yamaha.
At the age of eight, Naoko began studying marimba with Akiko Suzuki. Naoko attended Tokyo Metropolitan International High School, majoring in International Studies. In 1995, she went to Waseda University, where she majored in Psychology. In 1996, she gave her first solo marimba recital in Tokyo, and her performance was a sell-out. In 1996-97, she was selected to be an exchange student to the United States, and received a full scholarship to study percussion with Karen Ervin-Pershing at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). During her time as an exchange student, Naoko won the CSUN Concerto Competition and the CSUN California Music Scholarship. She also won the Larrie Londin Memorial Scholarship from the Percussive Arts Society. In 1997, she officially changed her major to Music Performance. That year, she won the Music Etude Endowment from CSUN and the Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) Best Instrumentalist Scholarship. She was presented with her award at the SAI Winner’s Recital in California.
Past solo appearances include performances with: Houston Symphony; Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, SanAngelo Symphony, DuPage Symphony; Tokyo Symphony Orchestra; Tokyo Chamber Orchestra; Xalapa Symphony(Mexico), Ithaca College Symphony; Ithaca College Percussion Ensemble; California State University Northridge Symphony Orchestra; California State University Northridge New Music Ensemble; California State University Northridge Percussion Ensemble. Academically, Naoko has been on the Dean’s List since 1996. She was on the National Dean’s List in 1997 and 1998. After finishing her BM, Cum Laude, from California State University Northridge, she earned her MM at Ithaca College under the instruction of Gordon Stout, an internationally famous marimba player. She received a scholarship and an assistantship from Ithaca College. As part of her assistantship at Ithaca, she was given the opportunity of teaching a percussion course, fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher. In the summer of 2002, she was assistant instructor of marimba at the Ju Percussion Group’s Summer Camp in Taipei, Taiwan. This year she will teach at KOSA International Workshops at Vermont, USA. She is listed in Who’s Who Among American Universities and Colleges, and was selected to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Kappa Lambda. After completing her MM at Ithaca, Naoko studied with Nancy Zeltsman at the Boston Conservatory (2001-2). Naoko Takada is a Yamaha performing artist. She also works with private students in her spare time. She now resides in Los Angeles, CA.