Toho Gakuen Conservatory,Tokyo - M.M.
Cleveland Institute of Music- A.D.
Tokyo College of Music- B.M.
Japanese violinist Koko Watanabe is passionate to share the excitement of music making with everyone. She has given orchestral, solo and chamber music performances in the U.S. and Japan. Koko was a musician of the Nashville Symphony for the 21-22 season and performs frequently with the Pittsburgh Symphony, with whom she went on tour to NYC’s Lincoln Center and recorded Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony and Schulhoff’s Five Pieces conducted by Manfred Honeck. She has also played regularly with Alabama Symphony Orchestra. Currently, She is a member of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra and DesMoines Metro Opera, where she served as assistant concertmaster in summer of 2019.
In 2014, Koko received her Artist Diploma in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with William Preucil and Stephen Rose, the former concertmaster and current principal second violinist of The Cleveland Orchestra. Before moving to Cleveland, Koko earned her musical degrees at Southern Methodist University, Toho Conservatory and Tokyo College of Music, and have studied with Emanuel Borok, former concertmaster of Dallas Symphony, and Hamao Fujiwara. She was the winner of Cho-Ko Hai International Music Competition and Toho Conservatory Concerto Competition, which led to a performance of the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with the Toho Academy Orchestra.She attended Pacific Music Festival in Japan, and Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, where she was concertmistress of the festival orchestra under Tito Munoz and James Gaffigan.
As a teacher, Koko was a violin faculty at Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in 2014 and 2015, where she managed private lessons, masterclasses, group lessons, orchestra sectionals, chamber music coaching and faculty concerts. Currently, She has her private violin studio in Columbus, OH and her students have ranged from ages four to sixty and levels beginning to advanced. Koko was responsible for the development of an after school program at Ruffing Montessori School, Cleveland Hts. OH, and Hathaway Brown School, Shaker Hts. OH, where she taught violin private lessons. Koko trained with Linda Stieg, Merilyn O' Boyle, Daniel Gee Cordova, Cathryn Lee, Allen Lieb and James Hutchins to complete her Suzuki Violin Teacher Training Registration Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 6 and Revisiting Unit 1. Koko also participated in Northern California Suzuki Institute in 2021 and took Cathryn Lee’s “Developing Bow Arm” class.
Koko’s favorite Dr. Suzuki’s quote is “Beautiful heart, beautiful tone”. She believes that her job as a Suzuki teacher is not only teaching the violin, but also to develop each child’s character and nurture beautiful young souls through the power of music. She promises to bring positive/fun energy into each class and to find a best way to approach each student, so they can improve in the most efficient way!