Ayako Yonetani

By November 11, 2020November 3rd, 2021Music Judge 2021, Music Judges 2020

A full professor of violin and viola at the University of Central Florida and is also a member of Japan’s premier chamber ensemble, Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra. Dr. Yonetani was born in Kobe, Japan, where, at the age of five, she began violin studies with the famous Saburo Sumi. Since winning the Japan National competition at age nine, she has quickly ascended to the top ranks of Japan’s violinists.

Yonetani received her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School where she studied with Hyo Kang and the late Dorothy DeLay, world-renowned violin pedagogue, who taught such artists as Perlman, Midori, Cho-Liang Lin, Gil Shaham and Sarah Chang. From 1987 to 2001, she assisted the late Dorothy DeLay at the Juilliard pre-college division and at the Aspen Music Festival and School. She held the Isaac Stern concertmaster chair of the Academy Orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2001 and 2002.

After Yonetani moved to the US in 1982, she has appeared frequently as a recitalist in major cities such as New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and Orlando. These appearances included numerous solo recitals, solos with orchestras, chamber music and ensemble performances. These concerts took place in prestigious venues such as Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Salzburg’s Mozarteum, Vienna’s Musikverrein, Tokyo’s Kioi Hall, Slovak Republic’s Dome Umenia, Dresden’s Semperoper, and Astana City Hall in Kazakhstan.  As a member of the Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo (currently the Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra), the chamber ensemble gave its first American tour in May 2012, performing at the National Gallery of Arts in Washington, Verizon Hall in Philadelphia, Sanders Theater at Harvard in Boston, and the Avery Fischer Hall in New York. In May of 2011

In addition to concert performances, her international reputation has been enhanced by recordings, publications and engagements as a master-teacher and/or judge for musical competitions. Yonetani released a solo CD of Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn compositions, and she has participated in the production of six ensemble CDs as a member of Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo. Her Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn concerto CD with the Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra was selected as “The CD of the Month” by WMFE-90.7FM in October 2004. Dr. Yonetani was a judge to the International Competition, “Shabyt, 2005” in Kazakhstan and premiered a double violin concerto (composed by Dr. Stella Sung and conducted by Dr. Laszlo Marosi) with the Astana City Symphony Orchestra in Kazakhstan. Her “Favourite” CD was favorably reviewed in the London-based Strad magazine in 2009.  In 2017, she has released her fourth solo double CD of the Beethoven Violin concerto with Beethoven cadenza, Beethoven Romances and the Brahms Violin concerto. In 2019, CD “Romantic Russian” Glazunov/Tchaikovsky concerto was released.

Japan’s premier music publisher, Ongaku no Tomo, published her Japanese translation of Barbara L. Sand’s book Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician in November, 2001.

In 2006, Dr. Yonetani was elected as Honorary Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.  In 2018, Dr. Yonetani became director of UCF’s Graduate String Quartet Program.

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