Naoko Takada


Marimbist Naoko Takada is renowned for her wide range of repertoire, from Bach to Piazzolla.  An arranger as well as a performer, Ms. Takada’s transcriptions have been published by Studio 4 Music as part of the Naoko Takada Series, which also includes works written for her by composers including Yasutaki Inamori, Paul Fowler, John Anthony Lennon, and Hayato Hirose.  In 2007, Japan Victor Entertainment, Inc. released Ms. Takada’s first CD, Marimba Meets the Classics.  Ms. Takada has performed at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, New York’s Symphony Space, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the Konzerhaus in Berlin, the Belgium International Marimba Festival, and in a benefit for Paul Newman’s Hole in Wall Gang Camp, where she appeared onstage with such personalities as Bruce Willis, Meryl Streep and Danny Glover. 

She has appeared as soloist with orchestra including the Houston, South Dakota, West Shore, Anchorage, Mobile, West Los Angeles, Fargo-Moorhead, Vallejo, China National, and Xalapa (Mexico) symphonies, the Boise and Louisiana philharmonics, and the Chamber Orchestra of the South Bay.  She has appeared at the Patagonia International Percussion Festival in Argentina, the KoSA International Percussion Festival, Nancy Zeltsman’s Marimba Festival, and the Yamaha Sounds of Summer Drum Camp at Central Washington University. 

First Prize winner in the 2002 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Ms. Takada was presented in her New York debut at the 92nd Street Y, sponsored by the Peter Jay Sharp Prize, as well as debuts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  In May 2004, Ms. Takada performed the New York premiere of YCA composer Kevin Puts’ Marimba Concerto with Leonard Slatkin conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s in YCA’s annual Irene Diamond Concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

Ms. Takada was awarded the S & R Washington Award by the S & R Foundation in 2006, a prize that supports artists who contribute to cultural understanding between the U.S. and Japan.  Her other awards include First Prize at the 2002 Houston Symphony Ima Hogg National Young Artist Competition, First Prize at the 2001 Sorantin Young Artists International Competition in Texas, the Marimba Special Prize at the 2001 IBLA Grand Prize International Competition in Italy, and First Prize in the 2000 Japan International League of Artists Competition in Tokyo.  Ms. Takada is the chief judge of the Southern California Marimba Competition.

Born in Tokyo, Ms. Takada began marimba lessons at the age of eight.  She first appeared as soloist with orchestra at the age of eleven, when she played with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Philharmonic.  In Japan, she studied with Akiko Suzuki and Keiko Abe and attended Waseda University, majoring in psychology.  Ms. Takada then decided to focus on her marimba studies and entered California State University at Northridge as a student of Karen Ervin-Pershing, where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree.  She earned a Master of Music degree from Ithaca College, working with Gordon Stout, and has studied at the Boston Conservatory with Nancy Zeltsman.  Ms. Takada is a Yamaha performing artist.  Her signature line of mallets is available through Encore Mallets.  She is also endorsed by Phiten, which provides health-promoting technologies and products to musicians and athletes.