HIDEAKI HIRAI, Music Director and Conductor
HIDEAKI HIRAI, who has “a talent deeply ingrained in his genes” (The Den), is one of the most gifted young conductors from Japan. He belongs to the Hirai family, famous in the classical music field in Japan.
In 2013,“Maestro Hirai made a remarkable Carnegie Hall debut” (The New York Culture Examiner) with rave reviews such as “especially impressive, dynamic, confident, justly deserving of the standing ovation” (The New York Concert Review), conducting from the memory the Beethoven 9th Symphony with New York Festival Orchestra (NYFO). Upon a great success, NYFO has appointed him Music Director and Conductor, starting from 2014/15 season.
In May, 2017, Maestro Hirai made a highly praised debut at prestigious Wiener Konzerthaus with
Ensemble Wien Klang, which unanimously appointed him Principal Guest Conductor, starting from 2017-18 season. In October, he had such a rare honor to conduct his own “Ave Maria” in the official mass at St. Peter’s Basilica as well as to dedicate it to Pope Francis and the Vatican City.
Also, he made his debut in the season inaugural concert of Roma Tre Orchestra at Palladium Theatre in Rome. Upon this success, Maestro Hirai made his debut at the prestigious Rossini Theatre (Pesaro) with Rossini Symphony Orchestra in May, 2019, which led to his immediate return engagements in Rome and Pesaro in 2020. In June, 2019, he has produced and conducted various concerts at Tokyo's newly-launched Hibiya Music Festival.
Highlights in the 2012/13 season include his sensational debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, immediately followed by a successful return during 2013/14 season, and his successful debut in Salzburg for the Austrian premiere of his own acclaimed opera, “Princess from the Moon”, which has been performed nearly 50 times in such cities as Canberra, Prague, Anif, Los Angeles and many cities in Japan. Besides, Maestro Hirai has written two other operas: "True Love of Komachi" and "The White Fox" which have also become very popular to enjoy many performances in Japan. In April, 2020, "The White Fox" will have its New York/U.S. premiere.
In 1997 he was the first prize-winner of the Sixth International Conducting Competition in Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic). In 2001 Mr. Hirai was chosen by Lorin Maazel as one of the ten promising conductors in Asia.
He has conducted many leading orchestras including the Cadaques Chamber Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Croatian Radio-TV Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Wien Klang, Finnish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic, Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic, Pleven Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Roma Tre Orchestra, Silesian Philharmonic, Sofia Sinfonietta and most of the major orchestras in Japan such as New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra as well as appeared at such festivals as Martinu Festival, Young Prague Music Festival (Czech Rep.), Japan Festival (U.S.A.) and Martha Argherich Music Festival (Beppu, Japan).
Acknowledged as opera conductor, Maestro Hirai has been a frequent guest with the prestigious New National Theatre, Tokyo. Following his successful debut with Mitridate and Lucio Silla (Mozart) in November 2003, Maestro Hirai was immediately offered re-engagements with Marriage of Figaro in April 2005 and with Serse (Handel) in January 2006. His recent opera performances include productions of La Boheme, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, and La Traviata.
Mr. Hirai, born into a celebrated musical family, studied piano, violin and composition with his grandfather, eminent composer Kozaburo Hirai, who studied with Mahler’s celebrated disciple, Klaus Pringsheim, and cello with his father, Takeichiro Hirai, noted cellist whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor.
Hideaki Hirai graduated from the University of Rochester (New York) with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, where he studied conducting under David Effron at the Eastman School of Music. He completed his Master’s degree in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of the John’s Hopkins University under Frederik Prausnitz, followed by further studies under Otakar Trhlik at the Janacek Academy of Music (Czech Republic) and his mentor Sir Colin Davis in London.
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