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Kuniko Kato - Cantus (2013)


"Kuniko is the total artist, no question: her attention to lighting, sound, dancing communication with the audience and questing program notes reveals a perfectionist.I can't wait to hear her again.” (London) Sunday Times - July 10, 2011

KUNIKO KATO is recognized around the world as one of the most gifted and significant percussionists of her generation in today’s contemporary & classical music scenes. Her technical virtuosity, exquisite musical insight and expressive, yet elegant, performance style continue to attract not only audiences but composers and conductors, as well. She is renowned for flawless technique in seamlessly playing both keyboard and percussion instruments and for her deep musical intelligence. Her native Japanese DNA gives colorful language and dimension to her interpretations.

Kuniko studied under the world marimba legend Keiko Abe at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, and advanced her studies under Robert Van Sice at the Rotterdam Conservatory in The Netherlands, where she graduated summa cum laude as the first percussionist in the school’s history.

While studying, Kuniko had already begun her professional career and played various concertos and solo recitals including "Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra" by Akira Miyoshi. After graduating she lived in Europe to further advance her music and artistic career. She began receiving competition and foundation awards, including 2nd prize at the 1st International Leigh Stevens Marimba competition (1995), the "Kranichstein Musikpreis" in Darmstadt (1996), the Cultural Award from Toyohashi, Japan (2002), etc.

In 1997, Kuniko recorded James Wood's Marimba Concerto in London on the NMC label where her performance was highly complimented by the BBC. Her first solo CD “To the Earth” was released in 1999 by the alacarte cie label.



Kuniko continues to perform and collaborate in recitals and recordings with world renowned composers, conductors and orchestras including Franco Donatoni, James Wood, Toru Takemitsu, Iannis Xenakis, Seiji Ozawa, Steve Reich, Unsuk Chin, etc. Along with her solo work in Asia, Europe and the United States, she has been a performing member of the Saito Kinen Orchestra, Ensemble NOMAD (Tokyo), and Ensemble ICTUS (Belgium).

Career highlights include the 2005 Japanese premiere of “Music Theatre JODO” based on Yukio Mishima’s novel, and in May 2006 Kuniko revived the legendary percussion concerto “CASSIOPEIA” by Toru Takemitsu for the Takemitsu Memorial Concert at Tokyo Opera City, live-recorded to a limited edition CD. Her newest live performance production “Sound Space Experiment - Steel Drum Works” premiered in Tokyo in March 2009, where she played the world-premiere of her composer-approved arrangement of Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint” for multi-percussions.


The multi faceted Kuniko also collaborates with renowned artists from different genres including the NDT dancer Megumi Nakamura, theater director Satoshi Miyagi, the Japanese Taiko troop Za Ondekoza, and she produces theme music for the TV program NHK Art Theatre.

Kuniko is strongly committed to music education through percussion workshops, master classes and open-rehearsals. She has conducted a series of log drum (slit drum) workshops for children with mental deficiencies since 2004 in Japan, and she will continue to devote her skills and talents toward music education and cultural contribution.

Kuniko Kato performs as a worldwide endorser of Adams Musical Instruments and Pearl Musical Instruments. She currently resides in the United States. (source)


In stark contrast to the highly rhythmic Kuniko Plays Reich, Kuniko's second Linn release focusing on minimal music, Cantus revisits Reich and then branches out to other lions of the movement: Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and British composer Hywel Davies. Kuniko completes her survey of Steve Reich's four counterpoints with "New York Counterpoint" originally composed in 1985 for amplified clarinet and tape, or 11 clarinets and bass clarinet. Again, with the composer's direction, Kuniko arranges a tactile soundscape for the reeds-directed composition, recalling the whole of Kuniko Plays Reich.

Kuniko's treatment of the Pärt's "Fur Alina," "Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten," the composer's famous "Fratres" and "Speigel Im Speigel" is slow, low and magestic, the percussionist drawing out the human vocal qualities of vibraphone and marimba, particularly on the Britten-dedicated piece. Davis' "Purl Ground" reveals a tactile bridge between Reich and Pärt, one of evolving kinesis over a low-hum or foundation. As striking as the music is, the spectre of Kuniko in flight is equally striking from her athletically efficient performance to her precise and exquisite presence: a total artistic package, shining with grace and brilliance. (source)

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