Hideaki Hirai, Music Director

HIDEAKI HIRAI, whohas“a talent deeply ingrained in his genes”(The Den), is one of the most gifted young conductors from Japan. He belongs to the Hirai family, famous in the classical music field in Japan. Highlights during the 2012/13 season include his sensational debut at the Wiener Staatsoper immediately followed by a successful return during 2013/14 season and his successful debut in Salzburg for the Austrian premiere of his own acclaimed opera, “Princess from the Moon (Kaguya-hime)”. In December, 2013,Maestro Hirai made a remarkable Carnegie Hall debut”(The New York Culture Examiner) with rave reviews such as “especially impressive, dynamic, confident, justly deserving of the standing ovation” (The New York Concert Review), conducting from the memory the Beethoven 9th Symphony with New York Festival Orchestra (NYFO). Upon a great success, NYFO has designated him to be Music Director and Conductor, starting from January, 2014.
Since 1998, as a Co-founder, he has collaborated with Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra both in the Czech Republic and abroad. He has held the position of Music Director and Conductor of Tokyo Opera Experimental Theatre and All Japan Youth Orchestra, Conductor of Tokyo Opera Production and Tokyo New City Orchestra, and Music Director of Capital Young Artists Orchestra (Washington, D.C.) and CYAO International Summer Music Festival (Virginia). In 1997 he was the first prize-winner of the Sixth International Conducting Competition in Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic). In 2001 Mr. Hirai was chosen by Lorin Maazel as one of the ten promising conductors in Asia.
He has conducted many leading orchestras including the Cadaques Chamber Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Croatian Radio-TV Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Finnish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic, Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Silesian Philharmonic and most of the major orchestras in Japan such as New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra as well as appeared at such festivals as Martinu Festival, Young Prague Music Festival (Czech Rep.), Japan Festival (U.S.A.) and Martha Argherich Music Festival (Beppu, Japan).

Acknowledged as opera conductor, Maestro Hirai has been a frequent guest with the prestigious New National Theatre, Tokyo. Following his successful debut with Mitridate and Lucio Silla (Mozart) in November 2003, Maestro Hirai was immediately offered re-engagements with Marriage of Figaro in April 2005 and with Serse (Handel) in January 2006. His recent opera performances include productions of La Boheme, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, La Traviata and a sensational success as conductor, composer and librettist of his own opera, Princess from the Moon in Tokyo (2003), which resulted in enthralling the audiences in Australia (2006) as Puccini-Japanese style”  (The Canberra Times) , in Prague (2009) as beautiful music to touch our souls” (Zpravodaj), and throughout Japan as a birth of the national opera” (Ongaku-no-Tomo). In 2013, the work has been privileged to be listed among the celebrated masterpiece operas by the Chopin/Hanna Press (Japan).

His nationally-commissioned second opera, True Love of Komachi for the prestigious National Cultural Festival 2008 in Japan has enjoyed a sold-out world premiere performance with rave reviews, already followed by many re-productions. In 2013, his newly-commissioned opera, White Fox, based on the original libretto by a legendary artistic leader Tenshin Okakura, had a sensational world premiere performance in Japan to commemorate 100th anniversary of Okakura’s death.

Mr. Hirai, born into a celebrated musical family, studied piano, violin and composition with his grandfather, eminent composer Kozaburo Hirai and cello with his father, Takeichiro Hirai, noted cellist whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor. Hideaki Hirai graduated from the University of Rochester (New York) with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, where he studied conducting under David Effron at the Eastman School of Music. He completed his Master’s degree in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of the John’s Hopkins University under Frederik Prausnitz, followed by further studies under Otakar Trhlik at the Janacek Academy of Music (Czech Republic) and his mentor Sir Colin Davis in London.