The Japanes violinist, Reiko Watanabe, obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as a student of Joseph Fuchs at The Juilliard School, and studied chamber music with S. Rose, Jacob Lateiner, F. Galimir. She also studied with I. Stern, taking master classes of N. Milstein and J. Gingold. Widely praised for her brilliant technique and expressive playing, she was at 15 the youngest grand prizewinner in the history of the all Japan Music Competition. Since then she has gone to capture top honors at several other prestigious international competitions, including the Paganini (1983, 1984, 1986), G.B.Viotti, resulting in engagements throughout the USA, Europe and Japan.
Reiko Watanabe's American appearances include performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, among many others. In Europe she appeared with orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Philharmoniker Hamburg, Dresden Staatskapelle, Bamberger Symphoniker. Also she toured in Japan as a soloist with numerous renowned orchestras including the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra with Neeme Järvi, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra with Mariss Jansons, Radio-Symphonie-Orchester-Berlin with Vladimir Ashkenazy, BBC Symphony Orchestra with Andrew Davis.
Reiko Watanabe appears regularly in Japan as a recitalist and a concerto soloist with renowned venues and orchestras such as NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few. She also performs actively in Asia, including recitals in Taiwan and concerto appearances in China with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Wuhan Symphony, in Singapore at “Japan Art Week” with Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2009 she appeared as a soloist with the Hong Kong Symphonietta at the “La Folle Journée” Festival in Tokyo.
Reiko Watanabe actively performs works of contemporary composers. In the fall of 2009 she gave the world premier performance of Tokuhide Niimi’s Violin Concerto No. 2 and in 2011 performed all 6 of his violin pieces in one evening. These concerts were highly acclaimed by critics.
As a recording artist, Reiko Watanabe's debut album was the live recording of Alban Berg's Violin Concerto ("To the memory of an angel") and his rarely found Chamber Concerto for Violin, Piano and 13 Winds, with Dresden Staatskapelle and the late Giuseppe Sinopoli on the Teldec Label. Subsequently she recorded Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich Concertos with St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and conductor Alexander Demitriev and the “My Favorites,” a collection of short works for violin and piano. Other highly acclaimed recordings include J.S. Bach's Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Warner Music and, in 2008, the “Carmen Fantasy” on Avex.
In 2005, for her continued excellence in performances, Reiko Watanabe was awarded prestigious “Exxon Mobile Music Award” in Japan.
Between her busy concert appearances, Reiko Watanabe has been asked to be a judge in numerous music competitions. Since 2004, she has given a series of lectures in English on “Music and Performance” at Akita International University as a select professor. In this course, she invites renowned Japanese contemporary composers such as Akira Nishimura and Somei Satoh.
Reiko Watanabe performs on Guarneri del Gesu 1736 violin "Muntz", kindly loaned by Nippon Music Foundation.