Noriko SHIBATA (Composer and Pianist)
Blessed with outstanding imaginative musical talent and expressiveness, composer and pianist Noriko SHIBATA has been producing many fine and unique pieces, full of artistic diversity and composing challenges.
To this date, she has written versatile musical pieces for chamber ensembles, orchestras and chorus ensembles, which includes a gracious piece of Uji-Jujo featuring ‘The Tale of Genji’, the world’s first novel in the 11th century.
In 2006, her flute ensemble piece for Auros Flute Ensemble was performed in Vienna by the Ensemble. Since then, Noriko launched her original pieces in venues such as Klagenfurt Austria, Alba Italy and Paris, which were highly received by the audiences.
Her recent highlights include a joyful piece titled “Viva Kyoto” she wrote for a large flute orchestra of 280 members during the Flute Festival 2014 in Kyoto. A native of Kyoto, where she grew up with beautiful sounds and music such as those from traditional local festivals and children’s songs, Noriko incorporated her such fond memories into this piece. Along with the climax indicating prosperous future of Kyoto, she fascinated the audiences with rich and colorful sound full of Kyoto’s traditional flavors and inspiring sound. “Viva Kyoto” was performed again in the subsequent Flute Festival 2016 as a revised version and was again enthusiastically applauded by the audiences.
She is a graduate of Osaka College of Music, where she studied composition and composing theory under Kei KONDO and Yoshio MUTO, piano under Mieko MANNEI, and conducting under Shinichi IBUKI. Noriko received several awards and prizes including Governor’s Award of Kyoto in 2011. She is a member of Musica A International Music Association. Noriko also serves as a conductor of a local chamber ensemble and a chorus ensemble.
Yukiko KUNOU (Soprano)
Yukiko KUNOU is a graduate from the Horikawa High School in Kyoto, and Kyoto City University of Arts where she studied vocal with Makoto NADAI and Atsu UEKI.
As operatic roles, she has appeared as handmaid in Dido and Aeneas by Purcell, Mimi in La Boheme by Puccini, Violetta in La Traviata by Verdi, Cio-Cio-san in Madama Butterfly by Puccini, Adele in The Bat by Straus, Hanna in The Merry Widow by Lehar, and Lucy in The Telephone by Menotti.
Other significant engagements includes her appearances in Carnegie Hall Music Festival in 1995 as well as in the 52th United Nations Music Festival.
She appeared as solo in those performances of Musica A International Music Association during its tours to Vienna in 2006, Italy in 2009 and France in 2011, respectively. Also, she collaborated with Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008 as solo.
On church music, Yukiko has appeared as solo in Coronation Mass in C major, Sparrow Mass and Messiah.
Yukiko received several prizes including Kyoto Governor’s award. She is a member of Musica A International Music Association and Kyoto Musicians Club.
Maika SAITO (Flute and Musical Saw)
Maika SAITO is a versatile musician who offers phenomenal musical performances, in solo or ensemble, and beyond different musical genres and instruments.
She attended Osaka College of Music and continued her study of flute at its Graduate School where she earned her Master’s Degree of Music. Maika studied flute with Nozomu MACHINAGA, Ryouichi SONE, Shokoku KIN and Paul MEISEN. She also studied Renaissance flute and flauto traverso with Liliko MAEDA.
Maika appeared in numerous venues in Japan and abroad including Korea, Germany and Austria. She has also collaborated with the orchestras including The College Opera House Orchestra, The Kansai Flute Orchestra and Osaka Shion Wind Orchestra. Most recently, she appeared in 2016 La Folle Journe au JAPON.
As flautist, Maika received many prizes from her college days, including the Biwako International Flute Competition, Choko-hai Music Competition (1st prize) and the Japan Flute Convention (gold medal).
One day in 2008, she became fascinated with a beautiful sound of musical saw played in a movie. Inspired with this encounter, she became firmly determined to ultimately become a good player of musical saw. Amazingly, just 4 years later, Maika became the winner of 2012 World Musical Saw Championship held in Santa Cruz, USA. Subsequently, she appeared in various media and made her world tour to many countries, including Korea, Germany, Austria, Italy, France and USA.
For Maika, both flute and musical saw are equally important tools for her artistic expressions. Interestingly, in her view, flute is an instrument always beloved by audiences, while musical saw is a strange and yet charming instrument, which brings smiles and joys to audiences as it raises laughing among audiences when Maika appears on stage with it and delivers unexpectedly beautiful and touching sound.
She is the members of many ensembles and orchestras, including Pastel Flute Ensemble (leader), The Kansai Flute Orchestra (concertmaster) and Japan Crystal Flute Orchestra. Maika is also a member of Kansai Musical Saw Orchestra.
Maika is also the members of The Japan Flutists Association, Takashima Flute Association (Board Member), Musica A International Music Association and International Musical Saw Associat
Shiho KAWANAKA (Flute)
Ms. Shiho KAWANAKA began playing the piano at age 5. During a piano concert she joined, she was fascinated with the beautiful sound of flute and started playing it at age 12.
She studied music at Kacho Girl’s Senior High School in Kyoto and went on to Tokushima Bunri University where she majored in flute.
Shiho studied flute with Shigeko FUKUI, Kazuyoshi HASHIMOTO, Shinji KAWAHITO and Shigenori TAKAHASHI.
She completed the masterclasses of Kurt REDEL and Shigenori KUDO. Shiho also received a lesson from HG SCHMEISER.
Based in Kansai area, she appeared in numerous venues in Tokyo and across Japan. Shiho performed together with Ai KANZAKI and Camilla HOITENGA. She also appeared in venues abroad, including those in Germany, Austria, Italy and France.
Shiho received numerous prizes and awards, including Choko-hai Music Competition (1st prize) and The 11th Japan Flute Convention (gold medal). She also received Governor’s Award of Kyoto in 2015.
She has also been holding performances at schools and welfare institutions to provide students and people with opportunities where they can get to know with each other and share the joyful moment through music.
She is the members of various ensembles and orchestras, including Pastel Flute Ensemble and Auros Flute Ensemble. Shiho is also the members of The Japan Flutists Association, Musica A International Music Association and Takashima Flute Association.
Saori TAGUCHI (Piano)
Saori attended Ferris University and its Graduate School where she received Master’s degree in Music. She studied piano with Shizuko SO and Hiroshi KUBO, and piano duo with KUBO.
During her college days, she performed Scriabin’s Piano Concert with Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra. Saori took the master course of Bronislawa Kawalla during the summer seminar of The Frederik Chopin Music University in Poland, and appeared in the final concert as one of the students recommended by Kawalla.
During her college days, she was fascinated with fantastic sounds of the piano duo performed by KUBO and Rainer HOFFMANN and began her study of piano duo.
Upon graduation from college, she formed a duo piano group and has appeared in various venues thereafter. Lately, she has been actively performing as accompanying pianist for competitions, concerts and chorus ensembles.
Most recently, she appeared in 2016 La Folle Journee Japan.
Saori has received several prizes including those at International Piano Duo Competition and piano duo of Osaka International Music Competition. She is the members of International Piano Duo Association, Japan Piano Teachers Association and The Piano Teachers’ Association.