Now praised for her “deeply communicative and engrossing” performances (The New York Times), Ayano Ninomiya jokes that she started playing the violin because of peer pressure. “My public elementary school in Massachusetts offered string lessons starting in first grade, and I wanted to sign up because my friends were signing up,” she says. “Becoming a musician gradually unfolded for me as one thing led to another.” Her young friends can be credited with starting her on quite an illustrious path: she’s now a graduate of Harvard University and The Juilliard School, the winner of numerous prestigious awards, and she has performed with orchestras across the globe.
Breaking down barriers
“I’ve always felt lucky to be traveling as a musician because making music with others breaks down barriers,” she says. “In the service and appreciation of music, people from many different backgrounds can come together to create something meaningful and beautiful.” This process is particularly impactful when it comes to playing chamber music. “I’ve had the good fortune to play chamber music in established groups and also with many other people in different settings,” she says. “In an established group that rehearses every day, the playing relationship that develops is almost one where you can read each other’s minds and anticipate gestures. At the Kingston Chamber Music Festival, many of us have known and played with each other for the last twenty years, and it is a similar kind of music-making.”
New and exciting repertoire
At our KCMF concert on Wednesday, July 26th – the concert that kicks off the two week festival – Ninomiya will join legendary oboist Richard Woodhams performing elegant, witty, and rarely performed pieces by French composer Jean Francaix and Czech composer Josef Suk. “I am excited by all the repertoire [KCMF Artistic Director] Natalie Zhu has chosen,” Ninomiya says. “Every summer there is a new and exciting repertoire! I didn’t know the Francaix piece but I was immediately drawn to how colorful his musical language is when I listened to it.” This concert will also feature Che-Hung Chen (viola), Clancy Newman (cello), and Natalie Zhu (piano).
What the arts remind us
Ninomiya currently serves on the violin faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA. In her spare time, she loves to paint and practice Aikido. “I think the arts remind us that we are creative, we are expressive, and we have ideas and ideals that we care about deeply,” she says. “We can take the time to create and re-create art that has quality, beauty, complexity, expression, and more. There is the South African concept of ubuntu: which can be described as, in a way, knowing ourselves through the inspiration of who other people are.”
Photo credit: Kate Lemmon