Yoko Hirota

Yoko Hirota

Chairperson | Full Professor

Department of Music
Arts
SE-106F, Education Building Sudbury Campus

Biography

Having been praised by the press as “precise and keenly projective” and demonstrating “the highest level of proficiency,” Japanese-Canadian pianist Yoko Hirota is considered one of the leading interpreters of contemporary piano repertory of her generation.


Born in Japan, Dr. Hirota began piano lessons at age four. She entered the State University of New York at Buffalo where she studied with Livingston Gearhart and received her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in piano performance.  Yoko pursued her commitment to contemporary piano literature with the prominent Canadian pianist and pedagogue, Louis-Philippe Pelletier, at McGill University where she received her doctoral degree in piano performance in 1999.  In addition to studies in North America, grants from the Canada Council for the Arts allowed Dr. Hirota to study in Europe with renowned interpreters of contemporary piano music such as Gabor Csalog at the Bartók Music Conservatory and Gabor Eckhardt at Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Hungary, Herbert Henck in Germany, and Florent Boffard, former pianist with L’Ensemble InterContemporain in France.


Yoko Hirota is a strong advocate of contemporary music and she particularly enjoys performing music, including works written for her, by some of Canada’s finest composers. She has performed in solo and chamber recitals with major organizations and festivals across North America including: New Music Concerts (Toronto), Discovery Series (Calgary), Windsor Canadian Music Festival (Windsor), Domaine Forget International Music Festival, Innovations en concert (Montreal), the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Friday Evenings at the Rolston (Banff), and Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur (Montreal). Dr. Hirota was invited by the notable ensemble, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), to Canadian premiere the challenging work, Joy (for 23 musicians and tape), by the renowned Finnish composer, Magnus Lindberg. The Montreal Gazette gave special recognition of her performance. She has also been the guest soloist with orchestras including the Sudbury Symphony for the world premiere of “Oiseau de Givre” a concerto written for her by the Canadian composer, Robert Lemay.


Dr. Hirota’s excellence in contemporary music interpretation is reflected in the many broadcasts of her performances on Société Radio-Canada, her participation as a juror for the profession’s leading grant agencies including the Ontario Arts Council, and the many awards she has received including prestigious grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, and semi-finalist at the Nutley Symphony Orchestra’s Concerto Competition. At the 1996 Clara Liechtenstein Piano Competition (Montreal), a Special Mention Prize was especially created to distinguish her excellence in the interpretation of twentieth century repertoire. In 2013 she was invited to perform at Le 16e Gala des prix Opus.


Yoko’s first CD, The Piano Music of Arnold Schoenberg with 17 Fragments,” was released to critical acclaim and was listed as one of Essential Tracks by The Globe and Mail.  Her second CD “Small is Beautiful: Miniature Piano Pieces”, a project made possible through the Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council featuring sixteen concise 20th and 21st century piano works (released in 2009). Her third CD, made possible through grants from the Ontario Arts Council, was recorded for Centrediscs: Voces Borealesfeaturing solo piano compositions by contemporary Canadian composers (released February 2013), and has received rave reviews from Wholenote, Musical Toronto, and The Globe and Mail.  Currently Dr. Hirota is in the production of a new CD "umbra septentrionis", consisting of ten Canadian compositions, recorded for Centrediscs. (Forthcoming in February 2017)


Dr. Hirota is co-founder and co-artistic director of 5-Penny New Music Concerts (www.yokohirota.com and www.5pennynewmusic.ca). 

Education

  • Doctor of Music in Piano Performance from McGill University
  • Master of Music in Piano Performance from the State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music in Piano Performance from the State University of New York at Buffalo

On The Web

www.yokohirota.com

Research

  • Contemporary Classical Piano Music and Chamber Music with Piano
  • Piano Music for Young Performers by Canadian Composers
  • Dr. Hirota is a strong advocate of contemporary music and she particularly enjoys performing music, including works written for her, by some of Canada’s finest composers.  
  • Dr. Hirota's “Teaching Contemporary Piano Music” workshops are in high demand across North America as are her informative lecture/recital presentations.  

Awards

  • Prestigious grants from Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts (see below)
  • National recital performances (see below)
  • Research Excellence Award nominee/Laurentian University, 2013
  • Clara Lichtenstein Piano Competition / Special mention, Montreal, 1996
  • Herbert A. Morse Scholarship / McGill University, 1995-1996
  • International Student Scholarship / McGill University, 1994
  • Nutley Symphony Concerto Competition / Semi-finalist, New Jersey, 1992
  • Aspen Accompanying Scholarship, 1990
  • Aspen Music School Scholarship, 1990
  • Long Island Summer Chamber Music Festival Fellowship, 1989
  • Pi Kappa Lambda / SUNY Buffalo, 1989
  • Com Laude / SUNY Buffalo, 1985
  • Baird Concerto Competition winner, NY, 1988
  • Baird Competition Scholarship / SUNY Buffalo, 1984
  • Graduate Teaching Assistantship/SUNY Buffalo, 1986-1989


GRANTS:

2014      Canada Council for the Arts       Travel Grants to Professional Musicians

2014      Ontario Arts Council            Arts Education grant

2013      Ontario Arts Council            International Residency grant

2011      SOCAN Foundation            Travel grant

2011      Ontario Arts Council            Northern Arts grant

2010      Ontario Arts Council             Career Development grant      

2008      Canada Council for the Arts       Grants for Specialized Music Sound Recording

2008      Ontario Arts Council             Classical Music Recording grant            

2005       Canada Council for the Arts       Travel Grants to Professional Musicians           

2004      Canada Council for the Arts       Travel Grants to Professional Musicians


 PERFORMANCES: (due to the limited space, list only selected over the last 5 years and forthcoming)

  • Piano solo recital at Thursday-at-Noon Concert Series of the University of Guelph (2015) (forthcoming)
  • Piano solo recital at Piano/Fest of Queen's University (2015) (forthcoming)
  • Piano solo recital at Wednesday Noon Hours concert series of the University of British Columbia (2014) (forthcoming)
  • Piano solo recital at LUMINA concert series of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario (2014) (forthcoming)
  • Piano solo recital at the University of Western Ontario (2014)
  • Piano solo recital at Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur (2013)
  • Featured piano performance at Le 16e Gala des prix Opus (2013)
  • Piano solo recital at Windsor Canadian Music Festival (2013)
  • Piano solo recital at 5-Penny New Music Concerts (2013)
  • Piano solo recital at New Music Concerts in Toronto, ON (2012)
  • Chamber-music recital for “Bernard Emond” event at 5-Penny New Music Concerts in Sudbury (2012)
  • Piano solo recital at Discovery Series of the University of Calgary in Calgary, AB (2011)
  • Piano solo recital at the University of Lethbridge in Lethbridge, AB (2011)
  • Chamber-music recital with Silver Birch String Quartet for Silver Birch Concerts in Sudbury (2005-present)
  • Premiere performance of the piano quintet piece, Territoires intérieurs at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Banff, AB (2011)
  • Chamber-music recital for “Autour de Lutoslawski” event at 5-Penny New Music Concerts in Sudbury (2011)
  • Piano solo recital at Innovations en concert in Montreal, QC (2010)
  • Mini-Recital of Piano Music by Canadian Composers at CUMS National Conference Regina, Saskatchewan (2010)
  • Piano solo recital at 5-Penny New Music Concerts (2010)
  • Piano solo recital at Music North in Thunder Bay, Ontario (2010)
  • Piano solo recital at at McGill Guest Artist Series (2009)
  • Piano concerto Oiseau de givre with the North Bay Symphony Orchestra (2009)
  • Piano concerto Oiseau de givre with the Timmins Symphony Orchestra (2009)


Radio Broadcast:

  • Broadcast of piano performance at “Espace musiques” on Radio-Canada (2013)
  • Broadcast of piano performance at “Espace musiques” on Radio-Canada (2007)
  • Broadcast of piano performance at “Résonance” series on Radio-Canada (2000)
  • Broadcast of piano performance at “Grands Concerts” series on Radio-Canada (1997)
  • Broadcast of piano performance at “Grands Concerts” series on Radio-Canada (1997)

Teaching

Fall / Winter 2014-15: MUSC 1015: An Introduction to the History of Western Music

Fall/Winter 2014-15: MUSC 14XX-44XX: Applied Major (Piano)

Fall/Winter 2014-15: MUSC 2115: Materials of Music II

Fall 2014: MUSC 3017: Music of the Twentieth Century

Publications

Books/CDs:


Chapters in Academic Books/CDs:


Articles (in refereed journals):

Hirota, Yoko. “Past and Present Analytical Perspectives on Bartok’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, No. 1 (1922): Intervallic Profiles in the Works of Experimentalism” ACTA Musicologica, 69 (2, January, 1997): 109 – 119.


Book/CD Reviews:

  • CD review on Jeu des portraits: Music of Ana Sokolovic

(CAML Review, Volume 34 Number 3, November 2006)

  • Score review on Maniwaki for Tuba and Percussions by Robert Lemay

(TUBA Journal, Volume 27 Number 2, Winter 1999)

  • Music review on Mitsu no Kisetsu for Contrabassoon and Baritone voice by Robert Lemay

(International Double Reed Society, Volume 22 Number 4, 1999)