Akiko Suwanai

Praised by The Times for her “noble playing, with its rhythmic life, taut and rigorous,” Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai is the youngest ever winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition and now enjoys a prestigious international career. The 2016/17 season sees her debut with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and return to the City of Birmingham, Iceland, NHK symphony orchestras, Hamburger Symphoniker and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and she also tours Bamberger Symphoniker (Herbert Blomstedt).
Last season’s highlights included concerts with the Philadelphia, Finnish Radio Symphony and St. Petersburg Philharmonic orchestras, and she joined The Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev for the inaugural Mariinsky Far East Festival. Previously, she has worked with BBC Philharmonic, London Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic and Danish National Symphony orchestras and the Orchestre de Paris, and toured with Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano. Other conductor collaborations include Sir Andrew Davis, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mark Wigglesworth, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Tugan Sokhiev, Yuri Temirkanov, David Robertson, Susanna Mälkki, Sakari Oramo, François-Xavier Roth and Seiji Ozawa.
Universally acclaimed for her performances of key works for the violin from composers such as Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Mendelssohn, Suwanai is also noted for the breadth of her repertoire, ranging from Bach to the contemporary works. Suwanai gave the world premiere of Peter Eötvös’ Violin Concerto Seven, written for her, at the Lucerne Festival under Pierre Boulez in 2007 and since then has performed this signature work on numerous occasions across the globe, including at the BBC Proms and most recently with Gürzenich-Orchester Köln. She also gave the Japan premiere of James MacMillan’s Violin Concerto with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in 2012.
Suwanai is Artistic Director of the International Music Festival NIPPON, which she launched in 2012. Past Festival highlights include Karol Beffa’s Violin Concerto with Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Paavo Järvi, and the world premiere of Eric Tanguy’s In a Dream with pianist Akira Eguchi – both of these works were commissioned by the Festival – and also the Japanese premiere of Salonen’s Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by the composer.  The Festival also offers chamber music, masterclasses and charity concerts in aid of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Akiko Suwanai has won numerous awards, including the International Paganini Competition in Italy and the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Belgium. She studied at the Toho Gakuen School of Music with Toshiya Eto; at 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 has garnered much critical acclaim and her most recent release is a recital disc of works by Frank, Strauss and Takemitsu with pianist Enrico Pace. 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.