After winning the Japan National competition at age nine, Ayako Yonetani quickly ascended to the top ranks of Japan’s violinists. She performed as a soloist with renowned Japanese orchestras, including NHK Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, and Gunma Symphony.
Since moving to the US in 1982, she has performed in major cities such as New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis and Orlando. These appearances include a recital in Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess Concert Series and solos with such orchestras as Rio Hondo, Brevard, Charlotte, Okaloosa, UCF Symphony, and Orlando Philharmonic.
Ayako Yonetani made her European debut in 1995 and has performed with the Slovak State Philharmonic of Kosice and the Chamber Orchestra of Zilina (Slovak Republic). The Korzo of Slovak Republic wrote, “She transformed the Museum into a Cathedral of Music. Ayako Yonetani performed twice during the Kosice Spring Music Festival this year and proved to be ‘the most favorite performer’ of this year’s festival”.
Her Tchaikovsky/Mendelssohn concerto CD with the Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra was selected as “The CD of the Month” by WMFE-90.7FM in October 2004. In 2005, she was invited to judge the International Competition, “Shabyt,” in Kazakhstan and premiered a double violin concerto with the Astana City Symphony Orchestra in Kazakhstan.
More recently Dr. Yonetani was re-selected as an official artist in the Florida Arts & Culture State Touring program roster (2008-2010).
Dr. Yonetani has received the highest praise for her interpretations of Bach’s Chaconne, the unaccompanied Partita No. 2 in d minor. She performed Bach’s Chaconne at the inauguration of the President of Wofford College and she has been invited back each summer since 2000 to play this piece for the Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute, at which she was elected as an honorary Henry Crown Fellow in 2006.
Ayako Yonetani was born in Kobe, Japan, and began violin studies at the age of five with Saburo Sumi. She received her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees from the Juilliard School of Music in New York. There, she studied with Hyo Kang and the late Dorothy DeLay, world-renowned violin pedagogue, who taught such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Gil Shaham and Sarah Chang. Beginning in 1989, she assisted the late Dorothy DeLay in the Juilliard pre-college division and at the Aspen Music Festival and School, where she held the Isaac Stern concertmaster chair of the Academy Orchestra in 2001 and 2002.
Currently, she is a full-professor of violin and viola at the University of Central Florida and is also a member of Japan’s premier chamber ensemble, Kioi Sinfonietta Tokyo. She teaches at the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival as the Jay and Doris Christopher endowed Chair of Strings. She has been actively involved in clinics and coaching in high schools in Florida and she has been instrumental in introducing contemporary Japanese composers to Western audiences.
Japan’s premier music publisher, Ongaku no Tomo, published her Japanese translation of Barbara L. Sand’s book Teaching Genius: Dorothy DeLay and the Making of a Musician in November, 2001. The book is currently in its fourth printing and over 4500 copies have been sold. Dr. Yonetani has been profiled in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America every year since 2004. Most recently, she was awarded an individual artist grant from United Arts of Central Florida for her concert series at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park, FL, where she serves as Music Director.