Musicians of the CKSO


  • Nodoka Okisawa

    (14th Chief Conductor of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra)

    Nodoka Okisawa

    Nodoka Okisawa has been appointed as the 14th Chief Conductor of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. During her initial three-year term which began in April 2023, she will lead the renowned Japanese orchestra in subscription, education and family concerts.

    Nodoka is the winner of the prestigious Concours international de jeunes chefs d'orchestre de Besançon 2019, where she was awarded the Grand Prix, the Orchestra Prize and the Audience Prize. Furthermore, in 2018 she won the Tokyo International Music Competition for Conducting, one of the most important international conducting competitions.

    From 2020 to 2022, Nodoka Okisawa held a scholarship at the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker and was also assistant to Kirill Petrenko. In addition to her own concert projects together with the academy members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, she also conducted the Solidarity Concert for Ukraine in March 2022 with members of the Berliner Philharmoniker at the invitation of the Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Another highlight was the joint anniversary concert with Kirill Petrenko to mark the 50th anniversary of the Karajan Academy in May 2022.

    In the 2023/24 season, Nodoka Okisawa makes her debut with the Kammerorchester Basel, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Québec and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, among others. She will also make her subscription debut with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo and returns to the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and the Münchener Symphoniker, where she was Artist in Residence during the 2022/23 season.

    She is a regular guest with leading orchestras in Japan, including the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa. At the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival 2022, the 30th anniversary edition of the festival, Nodoka Okisawa made her debut with the Saito Kinen Orchestra conducting Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro" in a production by Laurent Pelly.

    Okisawa attended numerous masterclasses, including with Neeme and Paavo Järvi and Kurt Masur. In 2019 she was selected for the Riccardo Muti Italian Opera Academy in Tokyo. She has gained further experience in the past as assistant conductor of the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa and in opera productions in Japan and Europe. In November 2020, she conducted a production of Lehár's "The Merry Widow" at the Tokyo Nikikai Opera Theatre.

    In 2023, Nodoka Okisawa was awarded the "Hideo Saito Memorial Fund Award" by the Sony Music Foundation. In February 2024, she has been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival.

    Born in Aomori, Japan, she learned to play the piano, cello and oboe from an early age. She studied conducting at the Tokyo University of the Arts with Ken Takaseki and Tadaaki Otaka and graduated with a master’s degree. In 2019 she obtained her second master’s degree at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin under Christian Ehwald and Hans-Dieter Baum. Nodoka Okisawa lives in Berlin.

  • Jan Willem de Vriend

    (Principal Guest Conducto of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra)

    Jan Willem de Vriend

    Jan Willem de Vriend is Principal Conductor of the Wiener KammerOrchester, Principal Guest conductor of the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Partner of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra. He makes regular guest appearances with such ensembles as the Belgian National, Bergen Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, HR-Sinfonieorchester, Melbourne Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lyon, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Warsaw Philharmonic and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony.

    From 2015 to 2019 Jan Willem de Vriend was Principal Conductor of the Residentie Orkest Den Haag and from 2006 to 2017 he was Chief Conductor of Phion, Orkest van Gelderland & Overijssel. He was also Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya from 2015 to 2021 and Principal Guest Conductor of the Brabant Orchestra (now South Netherlands Philharmonic) from 2008 to 2015. De Vriend and the Netherland Symphony Orchestra went on to record a substantial Beethoven catalogue for Challenge Classics, embracing the complete symphonies and concertos (with Hannes Minnaar and Liza Ferschtman among the soloists). Classic FM praised the interpretation of Symphony No 7 for “a bounding flair that does real justice to the composer's capacity for joy”. Further landmarks in the Challenge Classics catalogue are the complete Mendelssohn symphonies, again with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, and the complete symphonies of Schubert, recorded with the Residentie Orkest, also de Vriend’s orchestra for a Decca recording of Mendelssohn’s complete works for piano and orchestra.

    De Vriend first established an international reputation as Artistic Director of the Combattimento Consort Amsterdam, which he established in 1982 and led from the violin until 2015. Specialising in music of the 17th and 18th century, and applying historically informed practice on modern instruments, the consort gave new life to many rarely heard works and Gramophone magazine praised its players as “accomplished … with technical finesse and a lively feeling for characterisation”. Its collaborative spirit lives on in de Vriend’s approach as he explores and energises the symphonic repertoire, in particular the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms and Johann Strauss.

    In the field of opera, in both Europe and the USA, de Vriend and Combattimento Consort Amsterdam gave performances of works by Monteverdi, Haydn, Handel, Telemann, and J.S. Bach (the Hunting and Coffee cantatas at the Leipzig Bach Festival), all in stagings by the director Eva Buchmann. Operas by such composers as Mozart, Verdi and Cherubini featured in his seasons with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, which included a visit to Switzerland with productions of Don Giovanni and Rossini’s La Gazzetta, again directed by Eva Buchmann. De Vriend has also conducted operas in Amsterdam (Nederlandse Reisopera), Barcelona, Strasbourg, Luzern, Schwetzingen and Bergen.

    In the Netherlands he has presented several television series and is well known for his appearances on a variety of other programmes about music. In 2012 he received a prize from the national station NPO Radio 4 for his creative contribution to classical music.

  • Naoto Otomo

    (Conductor Laureate)

    Naoto OTOMO

    Honorary Guest Conductor, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (since April 2014)
    Conductor Laureate, City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra (since 2008)
    Music Director, Ryukyu Symphony Orchestra (since 2016)

    For nearly forty years, Naoto Otomo has led the highly competitive music scene of Japan.
    Since his debut with the NHK Symphony Orchestra at the age of 22, Otomo has been invited regularly to conduct all the major orchestras both based in Tokyo and all over Japan. He currently serves as Music Director at the Ryukyu Symphony Orchestra on Okinawa Island, and previously held the posts of Principal Conductor or Music Director at the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and Gunma Symphony Orchestra. Besides conducting, he had served as the first Music Director of the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan concert hall for eight years.

    Outside his country, Otomo led the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra on their overseas tours and has appeared repeatedly with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre national de Lorraine, Orchestre de Cannes, Orchestra della Toscana and National Symphony Orchestra of Romania. Also invited to conduct the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony and Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Otomo led the Philharmonia Orchestra on its tour to Japan.

    Otomo has performed with numerous world-renowned soloists including: pianists Radu Lupu, André Watts, Ivan Moravec, Paul Badura-Skoda, Pierre Réach, Mikhail Pletnev, Hélène Grimaud, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Peter Serkin, Rafał Blechacz and Alexei Volodin; violinists Joshua Bell, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Augustin Dumay, Régis Pasquier and Augustin Hadelich; violists Gérard Caussé, Bruno Pasquier, Yuri Bashmet and Nobuko Imai; cellists Mstislav Rostropovich, David Geringas, Pieter Wispelwey and Mario Brunello. He also collaborated successfully with flutists Emmanuel Pahud, Andrea Griminelli and Philippe Bernold, trumpetist Maurice André and tenor José Carreras.

    Also active as an opera conductor following his debut in 1988 with Weber’s Der Freischütz in Tokyo, he has been dedicated, in recent years, to premiering operas by Japanese contemporary composers. Otomo was invited twice to appear at the Puccini Festival, where he conducted the first performance in Italy of Shigeaki Saegusa’s Jr. Butterfly. Moved by Otomo’s conducting, the festival awarded him a letter of appreciation.

    In 2001, alongside fellow conductor Alan Gilbert, Otomo founded the annual international music seminar “Music Masters Course Japan (MMCJ)” to coach younger musicians as its Founding Music Director.

    Since his recording debut at the age of 20, Otomo has enlarged his abundant discography including, to name a few, Lou Harrison's Concerto for Piano with Keith Jarrett as soloist, Bartok’s Concerto for Piano with Hüseyin Sermet as well as Graham Fitkin’s Concerto for Two Pianos with Noriko Ogawa and Kathryn Stott. Well-known for his wide repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary works, Otomo has premiered numerous new works, conducting especially the first performances in Japan of several pieces by James MacMillan and the opera “A Flowering Tree” by John Adams.

    Born in 1958 in Tokyo, Otomo graduated from the Toho Gakuen School of Music having studied conducting under Seiji Ozawa, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Tadaaki Otaka and Morihiro Okabe. Otomo was also trained at the Tanglewood Music Festival where he worked with André Previn, Leonard Bernstein and Igor Markevitch.

  • Junichi Hirokami

    Junichi HIROKAMI

    Born in Tokyo, Junichi Hirokami studied conducting, piano, musicology and viola at the prestigious Tokyo College of Music. He began his conducting career at the age of 26 after winning the first Kondrashin International Conducting Competition in Amsterdam.

    Since 1990, Junichi Hirokami has appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras throughout the world including the Orchestre National de France, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Wiener Symphoniker.

    Between 1988 and 1995, Hirokami was Chief Conductor of Sweden's Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. Since then he served as Chief Conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra (1998-2000), Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (1997-2001), Principal Conductor of Japan Philharmonic (1991-2000), and Music Director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra (2006-2008).

    In recent years, he has been a guest conductor of orchestras which include the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, L'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Gewandhausorchester Leipzig.

    In Japan he has conducted all the major orchestras including NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Saito Kinen Orchestra. He also received great acclaim for his appearance with the Mito Chamber Orchestra.

    He is prolific in opera as well, having led celebrated performances of "Un ballo in maschera" and "Rigoletto" at the the Sydney Opera House, and his most recent triumphs include "La Traviata" at the Fujiwara Opera, "Le Nozze di Figaro" and "Ainadamar" at the Nissay Theatre, and "La Traviata" and "Aida" at the New National Theatre.

    From 2008 to 2022 Hirokami has achieved a golden era in Kyoto as Chief Conductor as well as Music and Artistic Advisor of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra for 14 years. In 2015 he received 46th prestigious Suntory Music Award with Kyoto Symphony Orchestra together.
    Currently he serves as Friend of JPO / Artistic Advisor at Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and Friendship Conductor at Sapporo Symphony Orchestra. Furthermore he will starts his tenure as Artistic Leader at Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa from 2022/23 season.