Hometown: Nara, Japan
Age you began playing: 4
Year you joined the TSO: 2007
Who or what inspired you most to play your instrument? My mother was a violin teacher, and my father was a conductor. I had almost no choice!
Why did you choose to be a professional musician? When I was 18, I became ill and I was hospitalized for three months. During this time, I developed a very close friendship with several other patients. At the time, I was young and naïve, and hadn’t yet considered the subject of death seriously before. Then I heard that two of my friends were not going to live long. One friend was only 15; the other was older but had a young daughter. They knew I was studying music in college. One day, one of them said to me, “I really want to come to listen to you play the violin, but unfortunately, I’m not able to....” This was painful for me to hear, and I struggled with how I could help my friends in their suffering. After they passed away, I promised them and myself that I would do something with my violin to help people—make them happy, inspire them, and, even if just for a few moments, free them from their suffering.
What is interesting to you about working in an orchestra? I love the variety of sounds and sound colours you can achieve with a musical ensemble of almost a hundred people.
What wisdom would you impart to students and aspiring musicians? Never give up! Work hard! And go to as many concerts as possible!
What is your favourite music to play? Béla Bartók
What is your most memorable concert experience as an audience member? When Itzhak Perlman came to Osaka for the first time; he performed Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The second movement was so beautiful that I cried like a baby. He was also so nice to give everyone waiting outside the artist entrance after the concert a handshake and his autograph.
What 3 recordings (of any genre) would you want to have with you on a desert island? Bach’s Goldberg Variations played by Glenn Gould, Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings, and Japanese traditional folk songs and children’s songs.
If you were not a full-time musician, what would you be? I would be a nurse, a psychologist, or a music therapist. Or, since I started yoga, I would be a yoga instructor!
Assistant Concertmaster Etsuko Kimura joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2007. She appears frequently at concert halls across Canada and the world, leading eminent chamber ensembles, performing as a featured soloist with major international orchestras, and maintaining a full recital calendar. When she is not performing with the TSO, she serves as a guest concertmaster for orchestras in Japan and many other countries.
Ms. Kimura has performed extensively as a soloist, giving frequent recitals and collaborating with many of the world’s greatest musicians, music directors, chamber groups, and orchestras. She has performed as a guest artist with the Budapest Ferenc Erkel Chamber Orchestra and the Szombathely Radio Orchestra in Hungary, as well as with orchestras throughout Japan, including the prestigious Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band. A highly sought-after collaborator, she has appeared on stage with such eminent violinists as Masafumi Hori (Concertmaster, NHK Symphony Orchestra), Toru Yasunaga (former Concertmaster, Berlin Philharmonic), and Tomotada Soh, as well as with violist Nobuo Okada (former Principal Viola, Bamberger Symphoniker-Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie).
Ms. Kimura is a faculty member at Canada’s Interprovincial Music Camp, and gives violin performance and chamber music masterclasses all over the world for middle and high school students. She stands out as a musician who is greatly involved in bringing music to the community: she has participated in the TSO’s various education programmes, and performs regularly at hospitals and other venues where she can use her musical talent to touch lives.
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