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Makoto Nakura, marimba

Makoto Nakura

Makoto Nakura’s artistry and astonishing virtuosity have been mesmerizing audiences for decades.  His mission is to explore and expand the possibilities of the marimba, demonstrate what an exciting and provocative vehicle it offers to composers, and provide a thrilling and inspirational experience for audiences.

Born in Kobe, Japan, Mr. Nakura began playing the marimba at age 8.  He earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Musashino College in Tokyo, and continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.  Since 1994, he has lived in New York City. 

Mr. Nakura was the first marimbist to win First Prize in the prestigious Young Concert Artists International Auditions.  He has given critically acclaimed performances in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires.  His performances in 41 of the 50 United States have included the New York Chamber Symphony, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; solo recitals at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall and the Kennedy Center; a guest appearance with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; and performances in the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Spoleto USA Festival, and Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. 

Mr. Nakura champions the music of our time.  Many leading young composers have written pieces especially for him — not only Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, but Pierre Jalbert, Kevin Puts, Kenji Bunch, and Michael Torke. 

Mr. Nakura also develops collaborative works with other art forms.  He has given many performances with American Ballet Theatre, including the solo in a new production of “Marimba.”  He commissioned and premiered Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez’s “The Ocean Calls,” based on poems by Pablo Neruda.  Using projected images, he created “The Story of Aoyagi,” a venerable Japanese ghost story.  In “The Encounter of Art and Music,” he played pieces inspired by modern paintings, while the paintings were projected and he and a curator commented on them.

Recent honors include a National Arts Festival New Artist Award from the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs, the BMI/Carlos Surinach Fund Marimba Commission, and being named an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.  On his first three CDs – “Ritual Protocol” and “Triple Jump:  Six Original Pieces for Marimba” (both on Kleos Classics), and “Tsuneya Tanabe Works for Marimba” (ALM Records) – virtually every composition was written for him.  His newest CD, “Bach Beat” (Kleos), includes five of his own Bach transcriptions, recorded by Super Audio CD and surround sound.

A portrait of Mr. Nakura was broadcast across the U.S. on CBS Sunday Morning.  His recitals have been widely televised by KBS (Korea) and NHK (Japan) and played on many radio stations.  Mr. Nakura is currently on the faculty of Kyoto City University of Arts.  His website is www.makotonakura.com.

February 23, 2009