Praised by The Times for her “noble playing, with its rhythmic life, taut and rigorous,” Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai was the youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990. Since then she has enjoyed a flourishing international career and appears regularly with celebrated maestros and foremost orchestras across the globe.As a soloist she regularly works with the most distinguished orchestras worldwide such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, London Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic. Following residencies in Weimar, Luxembourg, Hamburg and with the Bamberg Symphony, Tabea Zimmermann was artist-in-residence with the Ensemble Resonanz in 2013/14 and 2014/15, and continues this close collaboration this season. In the 2015/16 season, she was artist-in-residence of the Frankfurt Museums-Gesellschaft.
Praised by The Times for her “noble playing, with its rhythmic life, taut and rigorous,” Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai was the youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990. Since then she has enjoyed a flourishing international career and appears regularly with celebrated maestros and foremost orchestras across the globe.
This season Akiko Suwanai debuts at Opéra National de Paris, performing the choreographed version of Salonen’s violin concerto. On this occasion Opéra Bastille sees a series of 13 ballet performances staged by Saburo Teshigawara and conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Other 2017/18 highlights include season opening with the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla and John Axelrod, as well as returns to Orchestre de Paris for Sibelius’ Violin Concerto with Paavo Järvi, and Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della Rai for Salonen’s Violin Concerto with Jonathan Webb. Suwanai debuts with Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra and returns to NHK Symphony Orchestra, Hamburger Symphoniker, National Symphony Orchestra, Taiwan, and Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse for a Japan tour with Tugan Sokhiev.
An extremely keen chamber musician, Akiko Suwanai enjoys fruitful and longstanding collaborations with several artistic partners. In 2017/18, she embarks on a 3-year Beethoven residency at Kumho Art Hall in Seoul with Yoko Kaneko. With Boris Berezovsky, she presents their brand-new recital programme in Moscow and St Petersburg. Following their critically acclaimed Decca Classics release featuring works by Frank, Strauss and Takemitsu, Akiko Suwanai also performs with Enrico Pace in Spain.
In recent years, Akiko Suwanai has established collaborations with Bamberger Symphoniker and Detroit Symphony Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin. She performed in Russia with Valery Gergiev and The Mariinsky Orchestra, in Hong Kong with Hong Kong Philharmonic and Lawrence Foster, in Germany with Gürzenich-Orchester Köln and François-Xavier Roth, and in the US with The Philadelphia Orchestra and Pablo Heras-Casado. Previously, she has worked with Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Oslo and Czech Philharmonic orchestras, Danish National and Iceland Symphony orchestras as well as Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor collaborations have included Vladimir Ashkenazy, Herbert Blomstedt, Sir Andrew Davis, Cristian Măcelaru, Susanna Mälkki, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Gianandrea Noseda, Sakari Oramo, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, David Robertson, Yuri Temirkanov and Mark Wigglesworth.
Universally acclaimed for her performances of key violin repertoire works, Akiko Suwanai is also widely recognised for her master interpretations of lesser-performed works and passion for new music. In 2007, she premiered Peter Eötvös’ violin concerto Seven at Lucerne Festival under Pierre Boulez, and in the following year she took this work to the BBC Proms where she appeared alongside Susanna Mälkki and Philharmonia Orchestra. She also gave Japanese premieres to important new works such as violin concertos by James MacMillan and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Akiko Suwanai is the Artistic Director of the International Music Festival NIPPON which she launched in 2012. Offering a variety of orchestral and chamber music concerts, master classes and charity events, the Festival regularly organizes Japanese premieres and commissions new works by Japanese and international composers. As part of the festival, Akiko Suwanai gave among others the Japanese premiere of Karol Beffa’s Violin Concerto with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi, and premiered Eric Tanguy’s In a Dream with pianist Akira Eguchi as well as Dai Fujikura’s Pitter-Patter with Boris Berezovsky.
As well as winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition, Akiko Suwanai has won numerous awards. These include the International Paganini Competition and the Queen Elisabeth International Competition. She studied at the Toho Gakuen School of Music with Toshiya Eto, Columbia University, and the Juilliard School of Music with Dorothy DeLay and Cho-Liang Lin, and at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin with Uwe-Martin Haiberg. Her extensive discography with Universal Music and Decca Classics has garnered much critical acclaim in Japan and worldwide.
Akiko Suwanai performs on the Stradivarius ‘Dolphin’ violin from 1714, one of the most famous violins known today and previously owned by Jascha Heifetz, which has been kindly loaned to her by the Nippon Music Foundation.