The Japanese violinist, Akiko Suwanai, studied with Toshiya Eto at the Toho Gakuen School of Music, with Dorothy DeLay and Cho-Liang Lin at the Juilliard School of Music while at Columbia University, and with Uwe-Martin Haiberg at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Suwanai has won numerous prizes and awards such as the International Paganini Competition in Italy, the International Japan Competition and the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Belgium in 1989 (2nd place). She was the youngest winner of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1990.
Akiko Suwanai is one of the brightest violinists to have emerged in the late 20th century, after winning the Tchaikovsky International Competition, she has gone on to an impressive international career performing in concert and recital in the major cities of Europe, North America and Asia, with a broad repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach to contemporary composers, encompassing both traditional repertoire and world premieres. Her 2006 album J.S. Bach: Violin Concertos was an instant success, and for three weeks was at the top of the iTunes U.S. Classical Chart. Her performance is impressive: incisive, nuanced, and idiomatic. Her tone has an appealing warmth, but she remains true to the character of the music and doesn't lapse into Romantic tone quality or interpretations.
Recent and upcoming highlights include tours with the London Symphony Orchestra (under Valery Gergiev), Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (under Sakari Oramo), and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (under Tugan Sokhiev). She also performs with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orquesta Sinfonica de RTVE, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Sapporo, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Suwanai regularly tours with Orchestre de Paris (under Christoph Eschenbach), the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg (under Christoph von Dohnányi) and Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen (under Paavo Järvi).
In spring 2009 Suwanai was invited to open the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival - the first Japanese violinist to do so. The event was televised nationally and resulted in a subsequent invitation to perform at the Expo 2010 Shanghai. She recently gave the world premiere of Péter Eötvös' composition Seven at the Lucerne Festival with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra under the baton of Pierre Boulez. Further performances with Péter Eötvös himself conducting included concerts in Gothenburg, Budapest, Berlin, Tokyo and at the 2008 BBC Proms. Akiko also collaborates with renowned conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Seiji Ozawa.
This season (2012-2013) Akiko Suwanai returns to the WDR Rundfunkorchester, Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla, and NHK Symphony Orchestra. Further highlights include a European tour with Orchestre National de Belgique (with Andrey Boreyko), tours of Japan with the Philharmonia Orchestra (Esa-Pekka Salonen) and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (Tugan Sokhiev). In late 2013, Suwanai launches the 'International Music Festival NIPPON', and takes up the role of its Artistic Director. The festival includes her performance of a new work by Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Philharmonia Orchestra, recitals with Leif Ove Andsnes, Pieter Wispelwey and Akira Eguchi, as well as several masterclasses.
Akiko Suwanai’s has an extensive and critically acclaimed discography with Universal Classics. Her discography has garnered much critical acclaim. Her releases to date include CD’s with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields under Neville Marriner, the Philharmonia Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, a Slavonic album with the Budapest Festival Orchestra under Iván Fischer, a CD of J.S. Bach Concertos with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as a recital disc of L.v. Beethoven Sonatas with Nicholas Angelich.
Akiko Suwanai now lives in Paris. She performs on the Antonio Stradivarius 1714 violin ‘Dolphin’, one of the most famous violins known today and previously owned by the celebrated violinist Jascha Heifetz. This is kindly loaned by the Nippon Music Foundation.