“A most brilliant and sensitive musical talent” 

The Guardian


Acclaimed worldwide for his imagination and sensitivity, Motoki Hirai has appeared in over 70 countries as a concert pianist, regularly giving solo recitals in prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Royal Concertgebouw (Amsterdam) and Konzerthaus (Vienna).

Much in demand also as a musician, composer, director, educator, lecturer, writer, artistic emissary and goodwill ambassador, Motoki has visited no fewer than 100 countries across the globe.

Motoki has broadcast internationally on radio and television (Classic FM, BBC, ITV, NHK, etc.) and has made a number of recordings on CD/DVD. Motoki is a Steinway Artist. 

Whilst being a leading interpreter of the standard repertoire for piano solo (especially works by J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Spanish music), Motoki is equally at home with concertos, chamber music and lieder, shedding an inspiring and personal light on music from all periods.

Since 1991, Motoki has collaborated with internationally renowned orchestras and artists including Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, Golden Jubilee Orchestra, English National Ballet, Vilnius String Quartet, Michael Cox, Kalman Berkes, Barry Craft, John Pearce and a legendary Doudou N’Diaye Rose.

Motoki also enjoys giving numerous duo recitals with his cellist father and mentor Takeichiro Hirai (a celebrated disciple of Pablo Casals), especially performing Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin and Brahms together.

In 2021 Motoki collaborated with a former England/Japan rugby head coach Eddie Jones in a documentary film ‘A Decade of Recovery in Fukushima’. 

As a composer, Motoki has been commissioned to write new works for musicians and artists in various fields which were performed across the globe in venues such as Carnegie Hall (NY), National Cherry Blossom Festival (Washington, D.C.); Southbank Centre, Barbican, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Dulwich Festival, Chelsea Festival, Chelsea Flower Show (London); Pegasus Theatre, Brookes Festival (Oxford); St. George’s (Bristol); Eden Project (Cornwall); Smetana Hall (Prague); Cultural Summer Festival (Bratislava); Maison de la culture du Japon à Paris (France); Expo Milano 2015 (Italy); Auditori Pau Casals (Barcelona); Cameri Theatre (Tel Aviv); Théâtre National Daniel Sorano (Dakar); Musaion Concert Hall (Pretoria); La Folle Journée, Tokyo Opera City, and NHK Hall (Japan). 

As an artistic emissary of the Japanese government, Motoki has visited France, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Romania, Israel, Oman, Tanzania, Senegal, South Africa, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Malaysia amongst others since 1994.

In 2019 Motoki was appointed both Ambassador (Yume-Taishi) of Hirono Town in Fukushima (Japan) and Goodwill Ambassador of Reviving Old Imari (porcelain) Project at Loosdorf Castle (Austria)

In 1994, he was the guest artist at the Piano Convention in Nagano, Japan, where he gave a solo recital with a programme exclusively of his own works.

As part of 2005 EU-Japan Year of People-to-People Exchanges, Motoki gave a highly successful recital on Europe Day at St. John’s Smith Square in London, where he included the world première of his own composition ‘Scenes from a Native Land’, which was repeated in Tokyo, supported by European Union.

To commemorate the centenary of Grieg's death in 2007, Motoki premièred his own piano work ‘Homage to Grieg’ in venues including Wigmore Hall (London) and Tsuda Hall (Tokyo), in performances which were critically acclaimed by the press internationally including the Norwegian leading newspaper Aftenposten.

In 2010 Motoki published his own composition ‘Homage to Chopin’ for both piano solo (1999) and piano duet (2010), commemorating the bicentennial of the great master, and was invited by Lithuanian National Philharmonic Society and Embassy of Poland to give a Chopin recital at the Vilnius ‘Chopin’ Festival.

Born in Tokyo in 1973 into a highly gifted musical family, Motoki studied piano with his pianist mother Minako Hirai; violin with his grandmother Yumiko Hirai (co-founder of Toho Gakuen School of Music); harmony and counterpoint with his grandfather, the eminent composer Kozaburo Yasuki Hirai (who studied with Mahler’s disciple and conductor Klaus Pringsheim).  

After reading philosophy and aesthetics at Keio University in Tokyo, Motoki came to London in 1996 to study at Royal Academy of Music, and later he won a scholarship to continue his studies at City, University of London, and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His teachers have included Frank Wibaut, Dominique Merlet, James Gibb, Patsy Toh and Joseph Seiger.

Over the years, Motoki Hirai has performed for the promotion of World Peace and for Children and People in Need worldwide in association with organizations such as British Red Cross, Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Japan Society, Motor Neurone Disease Association, Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, Tohoku Earthquake Fukushima Orphans Fund, UNESCO and UNICEF.  

In 2011 Motoki was invited to Lithuania to give a goodwill charity concert commemorating Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara who saved the lives of over 6,000 Polish Jews during World War II.  

Since the Earthquake and Tsunami devastated Tohoku, Japan on 11 March 2011 (which, by a sad coincidence, was his birthday), Motoki has been giving a series of charity concerts and recitals for fundraising, supported by Steinway & Sons amongst others, across the UK, Europe, US as well as the most affected area in Japan. He has organized and participated in over 50 charity performances, raising over £70,000 with the first three piano recitals alone.

In October 2011, he premièred his new composition ‘Grace and Hope’ for solo piano, dedicated to the victims and survivors of the Tsunami in his Wigmore Hall recital.

Since then, he frequently visits local schools in Tohoku to give concerts and workshops, sharing music with children. 

Motoki has been involved in educational and cultural exchange programmes to promote arts and cultures from all over the world, such as the ‘The Fascinating World of Folklore and Stories – brought to Life through Reading and Music’ project (2007- ) as artistic director, producer and composer.  He has introduced folklore and picture books from all over the world to more than 20 countries in 14 different languages so far.

Motoki has been honoured to perform for members of the Royal Family, presidents, prime ministers and ambassadors worldwide including Princess Diana.

In 2022 Motoki was invited by the President of Mauritius to give a Mauritius-Japan friendship piano recital in his State House in addition to giving concerts at various venues including the Japanese Ambassador’s residence, a newly-build concert hall in Caudan Arts Centre, and Sugar Beach as well as visiting a local high school. 

Motoki has guest-lectured at Royal Holloway, London Business School, Oxford Brookes University, University College Dublin, University of Pretoria, NHK Culture Centre, Academy Hills, Jiji Press Top Seminar amongst others.

Besides performing, composing, directing, teaching, giving master classes around the world, Motoki is a keen photographer and writer for magazines such as Forbes Japan, Hannah (Opera Magazine), Design Stories (France) and Euro News.  

During 2022-23 season Motoki will tour throughout the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, Iceland, Mauritius and his native Japan.

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