Wednesday, October 12, 2011

RAISING FUNDS FOR JAPAN EARTHQUAKE APPEAL MOTOKI HIRAI'S Piano Recital on 29 October 3pm Wigmore Hall, London

You meet some of the world's nicest and most interesting people at the Chelsea Flower Show, London.  It was here that I  met Motoki Hirai, a wonderful concert pianist.  He has appeared in the music capitals of the world, performing regularly in London’s prestigious venues including the Wigmore Hall, St. John’s, Smith Square and the South Bank Centre. Way back in the spring, Motoki gave a hugely successful sold-out recital in Carnegie Hall in New York. During recent seasons, he has performed in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Romania, Spain, USA and his native Japan. Highlights of the 2010/2011 season and beyond include concerto performances with orchestras such as Czech Virtuosi, solo recitals in venues including Cadogan Hall (London) and Carnegie Hall (NY), as well as concert tours across Europe and Japan.

Whilst being a leading interpreter of the standard repertoire for piano solo, Motoki is equally at home with chamber music and lieder, shading an inspiring and personal light on music from all periods. Since 1991, Motoki has collaborated with artists including Michael Cox, Kalman Berkes, Barry Craft, John Pearce and his father, the celebrated cellist Takeichiro Hirai, whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor.

As a composer, Motoki has been commissioned to write new works for international artists in various fields which were performed and premièred in venues such as Wigmore Hall, South Bank Centre, Chelsea Flower Show, Chelsea Festival 2008, Dulwich Festival 2010 (London), St. George’s (Bristol), Smetana Hall (Prague), Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris (Paris), Auditori Pau Casals (Barcelona), Carnegie Hall (NY), Tokyo Opera City and NHK Hall (Tokyo). His music has also been used in films such as ‘Voice’ (2004) and ‘The Emperor’s Tram Girls’ (2005).

Born in Tokyo into a highly gifted musical family, Motoki studied piano and composition with his grandfather, the eminent composer Kozaburo Y. Hirai, and violin with his grandmother. Since his first professional appearance at the age of 13 playing his own piano works to great critical acclaim, he has been highly active in both performance and composition. After reading philosophy and aesthetics at Keio University in Tokyo, Motoki came to London in 1996 to study at the Royal Academy of Music, and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and City University. His teachers have included Frank Wibaut, Dominique Merlet, James Gibb, Patsy Toh and Joseph Seiger.

Over the years, Motoki Hirai has performed for the promotion of world peace and for people in need worldwide in association with organizations such as the Red Cross, Motor Neurone Disease Association, UNICEF and UNESCO. In 2010 Motoki was invited to Lithuania to give a charity concert, commemorating Sempo (Chiune) Sugihara who saved the lives of 6000 Polish Jews during World War II.

He has also been involved in fascinating educational programmes to promote Japanese art and culture across the world, such as the “Picture Books – Storytelling, Images and Music” project (2007- ) as artistic director as well as composer.

Motoki will will be appearing at the South Bank on Saturday 29 October 2011 - 3pm and funds raised are in aid of the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund.  His website:  http://www.motoki-hirai.com/

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