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January 20, 2014
Pianist and composer Motoki Hirai to première Grace and Hope, dedicated to Earthquake and Tsunami victims and survivors, at Weill Recital Hall, February 6, at 8P
Program includes additional premières by Motoki and music by Bach, Tchaikovsky, and Grieg
Motoki Hirai, the Japanese-born composer and pianist now living in London, returns to Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall for a program of his own works and works by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and Bach.
One of the highlights of the program will be the U.S. première of his Grace and Hope, which is dedicated to the victims and survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan (2011). He will also give the U.S. première of Scenes from a Native Land (“Fantasie-Japonaise”), which was composed in 2005; the U.S. premiere of Homage to Grieg (1987/2007); and the world premiere of Improvisation on EDvArD GriEG.
Other Grieg works to be performed by Motoki Hirai are: Poetic Tone Picture, Op. 3, No. 4; Norwegian Dance, Op. 35, No. 2; Album Leaves, Op. 28, No. 3; Anitra’s Dance from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46, No. 3; and Selections from Lyric Pieces.
The program will open with the U.S. premiere of Motoki’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Organ Concerto in D minor, BWV596 after Vivaldi’s L’estro Armonico. He will also perform Tchaikovsky’s Dumka (“Scene in a Village”), Op. 59.
Motoki Hirai, Pianist
Widely acclaimed as one of the most imaginative and sensitive pianists of his generation, Motoki Hirai has appeared in the music capitals of the Far East, America, and Europe, performing regularly in London’s most prestigious venues including the Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, St. John’s, Smith Square and the South Bank Centre.
In March 2011, Motoki gave a hugely successful recital in Carnegie Hall in New York. During recent seasons, Motoki has performed in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Oman, Palestine, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, UK, USA, and his native Japan.
Highlights of the 2013/14 season and beyond include concerto performances with orchestras such as Czech Virtuosi and solo recitals and performances in venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall (London), Castle Festival (Bratislava), La Folle Journée (Tokyo) as well as concert tours across Europe, Middle East, Africa, America and Japan.
A leading interpreter of the standard repertoire for piano solo, Motoki is equally at home with chamber music and lieder, shining an inspiring and personal light on music from all periods. Since 1991, Motoki has collaborated with artists including Vilnius String Quartet, 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; the works have been performed and premièred in venues such as Carnegie Hall (NY); National Cherry Blossom Festival 2012 (Washington, D.C.); Wigmore Hall, South Bank Centre, Cadogan Hall, Chelsea Festival, Dulwich Festival, Unicorn Theatre, Chelsea Flower Show (London); St. George’s (Bristol); Eden Project (Cornwall); Lincoln Cathedral (Lincolnshire); Canongate Kirk (Edinburgh); Smetana Hall (Prague); Cultural Summer Festival 2011 (Bratislava); Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris (Paris); Auditori Pau Casals (Barcelona); Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv and Auditorium in Haifa Museum of Art (Israel); Al-Kasaba Theatre (Palestine); as well as La Folle Journée 2012, Tokyo Opera City and NHK Hall (Tokyo).
In 1994, he was the guest artist at the Piano Convention in Nagano, Japan, where he gave a recital with a program exclusively of his own works. As part of the 2005 EU-Japan Year of People-to-People Exchanges, Motoki gave a highly successful recital on Europe Day at St. John’s, Smith Square in London, where he included the world première of his Scenes from a Native Land, which was repeated in Tokyo the following year with the support of the European Union (EU).
In celebration of Chopin’s bicentennial in 2010, Motoki Hirai published his piano composition Hommage à Chopin (both solo and duet versions). His music has also been used in films such as Voice (2004) and The Emperor’s Tram Girls (2005).
Born in Tokyo in 1973 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 critical acclaim, he has been highly active in both performance and composition. After reading philosophy and aesthetics at Keio University in Tokyo, Motoki went 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, Japan Society, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, 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 over 6000 Polish Jews during World War II.
Since the Earthquake and Tsunami devastated Japan on March 11, 2011 (which, by a sad coincidence, was his birthday), Motoki has been giving a series of charity recitals for fundraising, supported by Steinway & Sons, across the UK including London, Edinburgh, Lincoln, Bristol and Somerset, as well as in Europe and the most affected areas in Japan. So far, he has organized and participated in over 20 charity performances, raising over £75,000 in total. In October 2011, he premièred his new composition Grace and Hope for solo piano, dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Tsunami, in his Wigmore Hall recital. The following month he gave the Japanese première of the piece in Miyagi prefecture, close to the epicenter.
As an artistic emissary of the Japanese government, Motoki has visited France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, UK, Romania, Oman, Sri Lanka and Malaysia among others since 1994. He has been honored with a number of awards, including the Sir Jack and Lady Lyons Performance Award. He has also been involved in educational programs to promote Japanese art and culture across the world, such as the World of Japanese Picture Books – brought to life through Reading and Music project (2007-) as artistic director, producer and composer.
Motoki has broadcast internationally on radio and television (Classic FM, BBC, ITV and NHK) and has made a number of recordings on CD. His most recent release is of works for solo piano Motoki Hirai Piano Works, which has received much critical acclaim.
Tickets to concerts in Weill Recital Hall are $40 and $20 for seniors and students with ID at the Carnegie Hall Box Office. Tickets may be obtained by calling CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800, visiting the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue in New York, NY, or by going online to www.carnegiehall.org. Weill Recital Hall is located at 154 West 57th Street in New York, NY.
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