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Photo © Jeff Gerbec
Karen Tanaka is acclaimed as one of the leading living composers from Japan. She has been invited as a composer in residence at many important festivals, and her music has been widely performed throughout the world by the major orchestras, ensembles, international festivals and on radio. She has composed extensively for both instrumental and electronics media.She began playing piano at the age of four and formal composition lessons at ten. During her studies she won several major composition awards in Japan and Europe.
In 1986 with the aid of a French Government Scholarship she moved to Paris to study composition with Tristan Murail and work at IRCAM as an intern. In 1987 she was awarded the Gaudeamus Prize at the International Music Week in Amsterdam for her piano concerto
. She studied with Luciano Berio in Florence 1990-91 with funds from the Nadia Boulanger Foundation and a Japanese Government Scholarship, at the end of which time she wrote
Hommage en cristal,
a commission from the Ultima Festival in Oslo. A series of important commissions from Japan, including the orchestral piece
Initium, Wave Mechanics
confirmed her as one of the leading living composers from that country. During the same period, there were increasing performances and broadcasts around the world including the UK, USA, France, Scandinavia and five ISCM festivals. Karen is Co-Artistic Director of the Yatsugatake Kogen Music Festival, previously directed by Toru Takemitsu.