Naoko Takada

Naoko Takada's Biography

World-renowned marimba soloist and Yamaha Performing Artist Naoko Takada has toured the world, performing in such venues as Konzerthaus in Berlin, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York.

Takada's talent was apparent at age 11 when she appeared as guest soloist with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. She has since performed with numerous orchestras such as the China National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St Luke's, Houston Symphony, Louisiana Philharmonic and the Xalapa Symphony in Mexico. In 2004, she played at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Gala, a Hollywood fundraising event hosted by Paul Newman with guests Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep and Danny Glover.

Following a concert at The Kennedy Center, The Washington Post wrote "Naoko Takada plays a marimba, moving with speed, grace and extraordinary accuracy…like a practitioner of some as-yet-undefined martial art, wielding two mallets in each hand and then plunging them down with fierce exactitude in the instrument's solar plexus."

In 2007, Takada signed with Japanese recording label Victor Entertainment and released her first solo album, Marimba Meets the Classics. In its review, CD Baby exclaimed, "Naoko's gift for this instrument comes through in both her exquisite and delicate touch as well as the excitement that she pours into each piece."

In 2008, Takada won the S&R Washington Award, a prize that supports artists who contribute to cultural understanding between the U.S. and Japan. Previously, she took first prize in the Young Concert Artists International Audition, Houston Symphony Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition, Sorantin International Young Artist Competition and Japan International League of Artists Competition.

Growing up in Japan, Takada studied marimba with Akiko Suzuki and Keiko Abe. She later came to the United States to study with Karen Ervin Pershing at California State University Northridge, where she earned a bachelor's degree in music. Takada then earned a Master in Music from Ithaca College working with Gordon Stout. She also studied with Nancy Zeltsman.

Takada is the chief judge for the Southern California International Marimba Competition and has served as an adjudicator for various other international competitions. In addition to being a Yamaha Performing Artist, Takada has her own signature series of mallets available from Encore Mallets, Inc. Her arrangements and commissioned works are available through Studio 4 Publications under the Naoko Takada Series. Along with her solo concert tours and master classes, she devotes herself to educational outreach programs such as Midori & Friends in New York City.

Naoko Takada's Gear
Naoko Takada

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