Mari Tamaki is a Japanese cellist, composer, performer, and producer whose great improvisational and compositional skills create fascinating music, fluidly crossing through both classical and contemporary genres. She began her musical studies on the piano at the age of 3 and began cello studies at the age of 11.


As a composer, she has successfully created works in a variety of styles, including classical music, progressive rock, free improvisation, avant-garde, and collaboration with the Butoh dance form. With the elegant, delicate, and dynamic sounds of her music, she is well-known for scores of string quartet pieces.


Today, Mari is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover Mari’s varied musical inspirations, including a few names from the days of classic rock…


[Featured Image: Mari Tamaki with PARMA Recording Sessions Director Levi Brown at the sessions for PLAYING ON THE EDGE]


Who were your first favorite artists growing up?


1)Pink Floyd; I was knocked out by “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”! It really inspired me and I set it as one of my musical inspirations.
2)Kurt Weill; I knew the composer when I chaired my own theatrical group as he composed many pieces for musical plays. His mysterious melodies and unique harmonies were awesome!
3)Herbert von Karajan; His music and appearance was beautiful.


When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?


When I was 11 years old, I wanted to be a movie director. I directed, wrote a script, and played the lead at a school play, which was well received. I was quite confident that I would become a talented movie director in the future.


What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?


1) The most unusual performances were an improvisational performance with surround sound in nature and an another improvisational performance with BUTOH.
2) The most embarrassing experience was when I played cello without a microphone on my cello at a very large music hall. The cello solo was the highlight of the musical piece, but it was not heard well. The concert organizer was mad at me!


What is your guilty pleasure?


I cannot resist buying merchandise with free small goods and toys. They are mostly useless and/or something I don’t need at all.


If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?


I would love to be a kung fu action star! (If only I were flexible enough….)


If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?


It would definitely be New York! I felt like the Muses were everywhere when I was engaged in music in NYC for the recording of my piece on PLAYING ON THE EDGE.


If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?


Electric guitar. I want to play it like David Gilmour and Jimmy Page. They are so cool!


What was your favorite musical moment on the album?


Sirius Quartet created beautiful harmony, and each player’s highly talented skills stood out. Especially, as the first violinist, Mr. Chern Hwei’s sharp, articulated performance was overwhelming. The cello solo part after the break was fabulous!


What does this album mean to you personally?


This was my first released piece on an album in the United States. Since I composed my piece with inspiration from my husband’s artwork, the album is our commemorative collaborative work. It was a great pleasure for me to release my musical piece with other great composers’ pieces together.


Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?


My piece is dramatic, so that listeners can make their own dramas when listening to my music. They can freely trip through their minds, in the timeline of past, present, and future. If listeners can release their thinking beyond the confines of time, I’ll be very happy.



sneak into the Q City on PLAYING ON THE EDGE is now available for streaming or purchase through Navona Records. Click here to explore this new album.