Yumi Okazaki, Pianist
Hailed by critics for her subtle, yet powerful musical expression, Yumi Okazaki started piano lessons from the age of six. When she turned 13, Yumi began to study piano seriously under the direction of Sakae Hatori, and then gained entrance into the Tokyo University of Arts where she studied with Professor Emeritus Yasuko Tani. Yumi graduated from the university with Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees for the piano.
In 1983, the Hungarian government awarded Yumi a scholarship with high distinction and she traveled abroad to study at the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest.
There, she studied under Kornel Zempleni and Shandor Falvey, among others, and in the master class, under noted professors, Zoltan Kocsis, Oxana Jablonskaja, and George Sebők.
Upon her return to Japan, Yumi embarked on a series of nationwide solo piano recitals and concerts with prestigious orchestras such as the Tokyo Philharmonic, the Nagoya Philharmonic, and the Kyushu Philharmonic, enthralling audiences with her dynamic performances.
Yumi won first place in the piano division in 1986 at the the 5th Annual Music Contest in Iizuka sponsored by the Asahi Shimbun Company, and the Grand Prix and the Minister’s Award from Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
In 1989, Yumi released her debut CD on King Records, and her follow-up CD on Sony Records. With an elegant performance style, Yumi has been in demand at European fashion couture houses for fashion shows and events, as well as corporate events in other industries. Furthermore, Yumi is also a sought after announcer and performer for many Japanese network TV and radio stations, such as TV Asahi, NHK E-TV, NHK-BS2, Radio Nippon, and TV Tokyo, in programs covering travel, fashion and of course, music .
In 2003, Yumi signed with Sony Music Artists. She gained further popularity in 2004 for her unique music concerts geared towards preschool children and expectant mothers entitled, ‘Wakodo Presents: Yumi Okazaki’s Family Concert.’ She also published a book with accompanying CD, ‘Listening to Classical Music Fosters Healthy Children (Kurashikku wo kiku to yoi ko ga sodatsu),’ and launched a series of classical music concerts to provide a positive influence on raising healthy children.
In order to expand her horizons beyond the classical music genre, Yumi collaborated with popular Japanese vocalist, Miki Asakura. With a repertoire of sophisticated and cosmopolitan musical pieces, Yumi performed at dinner shows and luxury cruise events.
While living in the United States, Yumi returned to school in 2007 to study modern and jazz music and composition. Upon her return to Japan in 2009, she held a recital at Tokyo’s prestigious Kioi Hall that showcased her wide musical abilities with a program that began with Chopin’s Piano Sonata Number 3, and ended with vocal and jazz piano pieces. In 2011, Yumi performed at the ‘Save Japan’ concerts held in Istabul, Turkey, and Tokyo, as well as a special concert with the Kurashiki Orchestra commemorating the 10th anniversary of Kaheita Okazaki Memorial Hall, named in honor of Yumi’s grandfather.
In 2013, Yumi performed at the charity concert for ‘Sailors for the Sea,’ an international non-profit organization under the leadership of David Rockefeller Jr. Later that year, lauded by the critics as having a ‘delicate power of expression,’ Yumi performed another solo recital at Kioi Hall. Most recently, under the sponsorship of the Sailors for the Sea, she held a recital at the JT Art Hall Affinis in 2014 featuring musical pieces about the sea and a mission ‘for keeping our oceans forever pure.’
Yumi organized the first Design K International Piano Competition in 2014 and she has also served as a member of jury.
Yumi is a committee member of the Sony Foundation of Education, a member of the Japan Federation of Musicians, a member of the Piano Teachers’ National Association, and an advisor for the Kids Earth Foundation.