Photo by Gaia Petrelli Wilmer
Pianist and composer Tomoko Ozawa is a fresh voice from Japan, raised in international settings. A graduate of Berklee College of Music and Longy School of Music, her music crosses genre borders, combining lyricism with European contemporary classical music and rhythmic elements of Jazz. Her debut album “Gentian” accentuates the insightful words of Emily Dickinson with instrumental compositions and playful improvisation, and was produced by her mentor, pianist and composer Vadim Neselovskyi. She was invited to be a guest artist at the annual conference of the Emily Dickinson International Society, and her music has been played on radio and podcasts in the US, UK and the Netherlands.
Tomoko began studying classical piano in Tokyo at the age of six, and spent three years in England during her teens, where she studied with Belinda Mikhail and Vanessa Latarche, the Head of Keyboard at the Royal College of Music. While she actively participated in various music festivals there, and won several awards, she was also exposed to differences in race, culture and political thought. This raised questions about her own cultural roots, and she started to question pursuing a career as a classical pianist.
Upon returning to Japan, she studied religions of Japan, philosophy and ethnomusicology alongside majoring in international law at the International Christian University in Tokyo. She picked up piano again during her senior year, this time improvising and composing through Jazz. She then relocated to Boston to further her studies in jazz composition, graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2014, and completing her master’s degree in Modern American Music from Longy School of Music in 2017.
Tomoko is continuing her exploration of creative work with a PhD in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology at the University of California, Irvine. Her recent interests include electroacoustic music with live performance.