Akiko Suwanei - Violin

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 with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Peter Eötvös performing his iconic violin concerto Seven. She also performs in Berlin and goes on tour to Japan with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and Vladimir Jurowski, and debuts with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and Susanna Mälkki. Other 2018/19 highlights include Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra with Sylvain Cambreling, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse with Klaus Mäkelä, and Japan Philharmonic Orchestra with Pietari Inkinen. In addition, Akiko Suwanai opens the newly launched EUPHONIE Festival in Warsaw with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Lawrence Foster and closes the Bratislava Music Festival with the Slovak Philharmonic and Eivind Gullberg Jensen. In November 2018, Akiko Suwanai joins prestigious Long-Thibaud-Crespin International Violin Competition in Paris as the Jury member.


An extremely keen chamber musician, Akiko Suwanai enjoys fruitful and longstanding collaborations with several artistic partners. In 2018/19, she concludes a 3-year Beethoven residency at Kumho Art Hall in Seoul with Yoko Kaneko. Summer months see Akiko Suwanai performing chamber music programmes with other world-renowned musicians at the Martha Argerich Festival in Hamburg, and Chamber Music Festival in Rosendal founded by Leif Ove Andsnes.


In recent years, Akiko Suwanai has established collaborations with Bamberger Symphoniker and Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She also performed with Orchestre de Paris and Paavo Järvi, Valery Gergiev and The Mariinsky Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic and Lawrence Foster, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln and François-Xavier Roth, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda and 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, 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.