I have held important professorships both in the UK and the US and have a reputation as a devoted and supportive teacher. Now at my private studio, I am open to all levels. We will work on the repertoire of your choice, I will guide you through your favourite piece of piano music!
I have served as a professor of piano at Alma Mater the Royal College of Music, London. I was also appointed professor of Piano and Chamber Music at the School of Music, University of Minnesota in 2007. In demand as both a soloist and a chamber musician, I have appeared at major music festivals and concert halls throughout the world including the BBC Proms, Southbank centre with some of world’s great orchestras and chamber groups.
I knew of Noriko before I met her. She is an incredible, world-renowned pianist, and I'm still in awe that we are friends. But perhaps I shouldn't be in awe of that, because she happens to be one of the nicest people I have ever met. It's just so refreshing when someone you admire also turns out to be a wonderful person.
When Noriko lived in Minneapolis (where I am), she taught piano at the University of Minnesota. She was a much-beloved instructor, and it's easy to see why: she is kind, compassionate, patient, generous, and extraordinarily knowledgeable and talented.
I feel very lucky to have gotten to know Noriko personally and to have watched her play on numerous occasions--did I mention she is one of the best pianists in the world? Anyone who has the chance to take lessons with her should. I can't recommend her highly enough.
I first encountered Noriko's consummate musicianship on recordings—particularly in those of music by the composer James Dillon. Her 2004 NMC recording of the composer's masterly The Book of Elements (1996–2003) is simply in a class by itself: incredible, powerful music performed and recorded at the highest level of artistry. The recording received a prestigious "Editor's Choice" award from Gramophone Magazine in September 2004. (She continues to perform this exceptionally challenging work, including as recently as in January 2020 in the Purcell Room at Southbank Centre, where she gave an acclaimed performance.)
Only in 2007, when she became my colleague in Minnesota, was I fortunate enough to be able to meet Noriko and hear her perform in person—which I did on numerous occasions, including remarkable performances not only of Dillon's music (several works), but also of Janáček, Schubert, Schumann, Ravel, Britten, and Feldman, among others. But I was struck by the combination of Noriko's brilliant artistry, her perceptive discussions of music and performance, and her humane kindness—the last of which is, I believe, a necessity when it comes to good studio teaching.
One thing that became evident during her years in Minnesota was that piano students began seeking her out, sometimes secretively, to take lessons from her, often because she could help them solve technical problems that their other teachers could not. Noriko once mentioned that she thought the students she encountered there often had very good and interesting musical ideas but lacked the technique to realize them—which was not what she had initially expected, given her thoughtful supposition that musical challenges are ultimately the much more difficult and significant ones. In those days, she was quite in demand as a result of her well-deserved reputation as a brilliant pedagogue.
Although I never took piano lessons from her myself, I did see the results of her teaching and coaching in the Contemporary Music Workshop (CMW) performances led by her and Dillon. I heard student instrumentalists who had never before performed difficult modernist music offer convincing renditions of works by Schoenberg, Varèse, Stockhausen, Scelsi, Cage, and Ligeti, among numerous other composers. I also heard a wonderful performance of the Rachmaninoff sonata for cello and piano by two students who had been coached by her. (These are just a few examples.)
Given the remarkably high level of Noriko's artistry, one might expect that she only works with the most advanced students. However, having a sense of her caring demeanor and patience, I am certain that she works quite well with younger, less advanced students as well. To sum up, I can't recommend Noriko enough. A remarkable artist, teacher, and human, she is a national treasure and fount of musical wisdom. I'm certain any serious pianist, at any level of skill, would benefit greatly from lessons with her.
Sumanth Gopinath, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota
We have known Noriko Kawai for nearly 40 years in both a professional capacity and as a friend. Imagine how lucky any talented student would be to secure Noriko as a teacher! Noriko is a world-class performer with a phenomenal technical talent, a wide repertoire and a deep understanding of musical structure and language. She combines this with emotional warmth, creative intelligence and interpretative subtlety. Combined with her personal charm, unassuming manner and natural gift for exposition, her abilities as a professor of piano studies have been in demand internationally for many years and it is wonderful that she is now sharing her experience and skills with a new generation of students.
I have known Noriko Kawai for about 15 years, from the time that she became my colleague at the University of Minnesota. Noriko is a superb artist and a wonderful teacher: a combination that is exceedingly rare. Her range as a performer is simply stunning, spanning over 400 years of musical composition, solo, chamber, and orchestral. And unlike so many accomplished pianists, Noriko’s expertise does not stop music from the past. Noriko is internationally admired for her performances of some of the most inventive composers of our own time. Noriko is a complete musician.
As a teacher, Noriko is a patient, compassionate, and sensitive, and at the same time able to endow students with a sense of high musical excellence. She was beloved by her students at the university and for good reason: Noriko is that rare teacher who while developing a student’s musical technique and sensibility also allows the student to find their own voice, their own musical personality.
I have been blessed by having had some extraordinary teachers through the years of my long musical apprenticeship. Later in my career as a music scholar, I was equally blessed to know some of the most accomplished scholars, performers, and composers of the past fifty years. I count Noriko Kawai among that constellation.
Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota
I have known Noriko Kawai for over 20 years and it has been a privilege to represent her professionally through my artists’ agency CMPromotions.
Noriko is acknowledged internationally as a major interpreter of a wide range of repertoire and for her special relationship with contemporary music in particular. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at numerous festivals and concert halls throughout Europe and beyond. Notable among concerto engagements, she gave the première of James Dillon's piano concerto, 'Andromeda', at the BBC Proms in 2006.
Noriko’s experience as a teacher is of an equally high order, having held piano professorships at the Royal College of Music London (2004-08) and the University of Minnesota’s School of Music (2007-13). In my experience both pupils and teaching colleagues hold Noriko in nothing but the highest regard.
As retired Head of Music at the Royal National Theatre, I have known Noriko Kawai personally and professionally for many years, and would not hesitate to recommend her wholeheartedly as a piano tutor. She is an extraordinarily gifted and versatile pianist, and there is no doubt that her meticulousness and care as a performer would translate to her skills as a teacher, and combined with her reliable and warm nature, and pleasant, friendly manner, would make her the perfect piano tutor. Kevin Leeman
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