Nobuko Imai

Photo of Nobuko Imai

International Chair in Viola

International Chair in Viola

Nobuko Imai is the RNCM’s International Tutor in Viola and, with her exceptional talent, musical integrity, and charisma, is considered to be one of the most outstanding violist of our time.

After finishing her studies at the Toho School of Music, Yale University and the Juilliard School, she won the highest prizes at both the prestigious international competition in Munich and Geneva.

Formerly a member of the esteemed Vermeer Quartet, Ms Imai combines a distinguished international solo career with various teaching commitments. She has appeared with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony, and Chicago Symphony. As a keen chamber musician, Ms. Imai has performed with various prominent artists such as Gidon Kremer, Midori, Isaac Stern, Mischa Maisky, and Martha Argerich. In 2003 she formed the Michelangelo Quartet which quickly gained an international reputation and is now recognised as one of the finest quartets in the world.

Ms Imai returns to Japan several times a year to perform as a soloist and for the annual Viola Space project. In 1995/1996 she was artistic director of three Hindemith Festivals at London’s Wigmore Hall, Columbia University in New York and at the Casals Hall in Tokyo. In 2009 she founded The Tokyo International Viola Competition, the first international competition in Japan exclusively for viola. An impressive discography of over 40 CDs shows her recordings for BIS, Chandos, Hyperion, Philips and, amongst others, Sony. 

Ms Imai taught as a Professor at the Detmold Academy of Music from 1983 to 2003 and at the Geneva University of Music from 2003 to June 2014. In addition to commitments at the RNCM, she also teaches at Amsterdam Conservatory, Kronberg International Academy, and Ueno Gakuen University in Tokyo.