Naoko Shimizu, the first female principal violist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

Naoko Shimizu (清水 直子) is the principal violist of the “Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra”, a world-distinguished orchestra. As a Japanese person, this is a splendid achievement.

She passed the audition for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, and after the trial period she became the first Japanese female principal violist of the BPO in February 2001. Not only is she active in playing with the BPO, which is physically and mentally exhausting, but also plays solo and chamber music. These are necessary for growth as a musician. Her sincere attitude and concentration towards music and her performances are highly appreciated. Expectations for her future are very high.
Shimizu stated: “The charm of a viola is its deep tone. A viola is a laborious instrument and it takes time to become a skilled violist. I am interested in playing viola because of its difficulties.”
In an interview, she asserted: “… I want to value the time when I am not playing the viola as well. It is very important for me to spend time with my family. I think that growth as a human being makes music more rich.
<Quoted from “Tokyo Philharmonic concert calendar”>
She was born in Osaka and raised in Tsukuba City.
She began to learn violin at an early age.
She advanced to graduate school at TOHO GAKUEN SCHOOL OF MUSIC and studied viola under Nobuo Okada.
She moved to Germany after graduation and studied under Nobuko Imai at the Detmold University of Music.
Ms. Shimizu won first place at The ARD International Music Competition in Munich in 1997. This is where she gained popularity and this was the first time in 21 years that someone had won playing viola.
She passed the audition of the BPO, and after the trial period, she became the first Japanese female principal violist of the BPO in February 2001.
She continues her performances as the principal violist of the BPO and also actively performs with different orchestras as a soloist.
She was broadcasted in a program called “Jonetsu-Tairiku”of Mainichi Broadcasting System in January 2006 where she became highly admired.
She played with Kioi Sinfonietta in July 2007. In February 2008, she will be playing with the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra.
A viola is a stringed instrument played with a bow (i.e. a violin, a viola, a cello, a contrabass). The sound of a violin is high and the viola is in the middle. A viola is a little larger than a violin but their structures are the same. The tone of a viola is gentle and deep. 
Famous viola pieces include:”Sinfonia Concertante in E flat for Violin and Viola” (Mozart),”Harold in Italy”(Berlioz), “Sonata for Viola and Piano” (Brahms), “Sonata for Viola Solo” (Hindemith), and “Viola Concerto” (Bartok).