Makoto Nakura

marimba

“Although high powered technique is one thing, what makes Nakura special is the staggeringly wide range of nuance and color that he could command at will from his collection of mallets.”

— Los Angeles Times

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Biography

Makoto Nakura is a musician whose artistry and astonishing virtuosity have been mesmerizing audiences over a quarter century.  He creates innovative programs of new music as well as traditional classical repertoire, revealing the versatility and expressive range of the marimba while enlightening and entertaining the listener.  His recent premieres include Toshio Mashima’s marimba concerto at the famed Philharmonie Hall in Berlin as well as Benjamin C. S. Boyle’s marimba concerto with the Montreal Chamber Orchestra.

His recent honors include a National Arts Festival New Artist Award from the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs and the BMI/Carlos Surinach Fund Marimba Commission.  His CDs “Ritual Protocol”, “Triple Jump”, “Tsuneya Tanabe Marimba Works”, and “Wood and Forest” are devoted to works written for him. He also recorded his own transcription of works by Bach for the CDs “Bach Beat” and “Bach Beat II”.  A collection of his concert favorites, the CD “Tears and Prayers”, won the “New Prominent Master” award from the Japan Association of Professional Recording Studios in 2019.  His latest album “Bach Parallels” was released in September 2020 to critical acclaim.  These recordings have become the inspiration for artists in different disciplines; notably it was featured in the fashion show of Rei Kawakubo’s COMME des GARÇONS 2017 spring/summer collection.  The first volume of his transcriptions, “Bach Chorales” was published by Kazenone Music Publishing in July, 2020.    

A network television portrait of Mr. Nakura was broadcast across the U.S. on CBS Sunday Morning.  His recitals have been widely televised and played on many radio stations.

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Programmes and projects

Bach Parallels pairs transcriptions of Bach's music for marimba with new compositions inspired by Bach, creating a conversation across centuries and instruments, both pulling the audience into Bach's world and creating an entirely new one.

Tears and Prayers is programme in which Makoto reflects on his career in an intimate and moving way. The programme features folk songs, music by Mozart, Schubert, Bach, and others. 
 

Makoto’s solo recital programs are a mixture of classical and modern repertoire. The programs will clearly show that the marimba has a wide range of expressive qualities, and that it is a versatile instrument which suits many different kind of styles.

The Four Seasons of Ancient Japan for vibraphone, flute and narrator

 

The opening essay of “The Pillow Book” (ca. 996-1000) by Sei Shonagon has been memorized and recited by every Japanese person.  The beauty of the writing instantly lifts our spirits and brings us to ancient imperial Kyoto. 

 

This piece has four movements representing each of the four seasons just as Sei Shonagon described in her essay.  The instrumentation of the piece is for flute and vibraphone, reflecting the clear and crystalline nature of the original writing.  A narrator recites the English translation of the original text before each movement.

 

Composer: David Schober (b. 1974, Minnesota, USA)

Reviews

EAST HAMPTON STAR

 

“Makoto Nakura, a marimbist of the highest virtuosity, turned both works into singularly raptuous aural adventures.” 

—  John Jonas Gruen

NEW MUSIC BOX

 

“There is a sense, not just of a showcase for a brilliant player, but an emotional portrait of the ability and personality of a soloist.” 

—  Benjamin Ivy

LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

“Although high powered technique is one thing, what makes Nakura special is the staggeringly wide range of nuance and color that he could command at will from his collection of mallets.” 

—  Richard S. Ginell

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