Akemi Takayama was raised in a musical household, born to a mother who is a professional violinist and a father who is a professional cellist. Her parents often performed and rehearsed string quartets at home -- music has always been a part of her life. A native of Japan and mother to four boys, Ms. Takayama has an accomplished career as both a performer and educator. Her professional violin career began in Japan at the age of fifteen. She studied with Toshiya Eto and Ryosaku Kubota at the Toho School of Music in Tokyo where she earned her bachelor's degree in music performance.
Ms. Takayama then traveled to the United States where she earned a professional studies degree at the University of Wyoming, studying with Brian Hanly. During her graduate studies, she became a teaching assistant to famed violinist and pedagogue Donald Weilerstein at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she earned both the Artist Diploma and a Master of Music degree. Praised by Isaac Stern as a “true musician,” she was invited to participate in the Marlboro Music Festival in 1997.
She was a member of the internationally celebrated Audubon Quartet for fourteen years, during which time the group toured regionally, nationally, and internationally and made a number of recordings on the Centaur and Composers labels.
Ms. Takayama is currently an associate professor at Shenandoah Conservatory where she holds the Victor Brown Endowed Chair in Violin. Since 2004, she has held the esteemed role of concertmaster at the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, and since 2008 she has been the concertmaster for Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra. She has performed throughout Japan, France, China, and the U.S.; recent symphony collaborations in Virginia include the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Opera Roanoke, Shenandoah Performs, the Chamber Orchestra of Southwest Virginia, and Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra.
Many of her violin students have active careers performing in chamber music, orchestras, country music, and also producing records of their own. Many have gone on to pursue Master of Music or Doctor of Musical Arts degrees as well.
She is currently completing her doctorate degree at Stony Brook University and an association with The New Orchestra of Washington.
She plays on a Gennaro Gagliano violin made in 1755, kindly loaned by Japanese-American collector and philanthropist Dr. Ryuji Ueno.
Solo performances include: Daugherty’s Fire and Blood and Ladder to the Moon, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Double Concerto, Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Pärt’s Fratres, Bach’s Violin Concerto in E Major, Chausson’s Poème, Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto and Triple Concerto, Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Mozart’s Violin Concerto #5, Roskott’s Violin Concerto, and Barber’s Violin Concerto.
In addition to concert seasons with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra and the Williamsburg Symphony Orchestra, recent collaborations include the Opera Roanoke, Shenandoah Performs, the Chamber Orchestra of Southwest Virginia, and the New Orchestra of Washington
Ms. Takayama also performed the All Beethoven Sonata Duo with renowned pianist, John O’Conor.
Ms. Takayama is active as an educator and arts advocate throughout Virginia She has served on the faculties of the Chautauqua Institute in New York, the Idyllwild School for the Arts in California, the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina, Shenandoah Performs in Virginia and at Virginia Tech. She also served as the chair for College Advisory Committee for the Virginia String Teachers Association. She was invited to teach at the Oberlin Conservatory in the fall semester of 2012.
She has also served as a judge for Music Teacher’s National Association, Virginia String Teacher’s Association, The Violin Society of America, Japan Strings Competition, and American Virtuoso International Music Competition (AVIMC), among others.