Having been praised by the press as “precise and keenly projective” and demonstrating “the highest level of proficiency,” Japanese-Canadian pianist Yoko Hirota is considered one of the leading interpreters of contemporary piano repertory of her generation.
Hirota received her doctoral degree in piano performance under Louis-Philippe Pelletier at McGill University. Grants from the Canada Council for the Arts allowed her to study in Europe, with Gabor Eckhardt in Hungary, Herbert Henck in Germany, and Florent Boffard in France.
Hirota is a strong advocate of contemporary music and appeared in recitals including New Music Concerts (Toronto), Discovery Series (Calgary), Windsor Canadian Music Festival (Windsor), Domaine Forget International Music Festival, Innovations en concert (Montreal), the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Friday Evenings at the Rolston (Banff), and Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur (Montreal). Hirota was invited by the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) to Canadian premiere the challenging work, Joy (for 23 musicians and tape), by Magnus Lindberg. The Montreal Gazette gave special recognition of her performance.
Hirota’s performances were broadcast on Société Radio-Canada, and she has received prestigious grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. At the 1996 Clara Liechtenstein Piano Competition (Montreal), a Special Mention Prize was especially created to distinguish her excellence in the interpretation of 20th-century repertoire. In 2013 she was invited to perform at Le 16e Gala des prix Opus.
Hirota has released six albums with grants awarded by Canadian arts organizations at both federal and provincial levels. All of her albums focus on contemporary classical music and have received rave reviews from Wholenote, Musical Toronto, and The Globe and Mail. Three of her albums exclusively consist of music by contemporary Canadian composers, released by the recording label Centrediscs.
Hirota is currently Professor of Piano at the Music Department of Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada and co-founder and co-artistic director of 5-Penny New Music Concerts.