Tokyo-born Reiko Watanabe, widely praised for her brilliant technique and expressive playing, was at 15 the youngest grand prizewinner in the history of the all Japan Music Competition. Since then she has gone to capture top honors at several other prestigious international competitions, including the Paganini, G.B.Viotti, resulting in engagements throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. She obtained her bachelor's and master's degrees, as a student of Joseph Fuchs at The Juilliard School, and studied chamber music with S. Rose, J. Lateiner, F. Galimir. She also studied with I. Stern, taking master classes of N. Milstein and J. Gingold.
Her American appearances include performances with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, the Vancouver Symphony, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Rochester Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic among many others.
In Europe she appeared with orchestras such as the Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony, the Orchestra Philharmonic de Radio France, the Hamburg Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Bamberg Symphony. Also she toured in Japan as a soloist with numerous renowned orchestras including the Gothenburg Symphony with N. Jarvi, Oslo Philharmonic with M. Jansons, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra with V. Ashkenazy, BBC Symphony with A. Davis.
She appears regularly in Japan as a recitalist and a concerto soloist with renowned venues and orchestras such as NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra, Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra to name a few.
She also performs actively in Asia, including recitals in Taiwan and concerto appearances in China with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Wuhan Symphony, in Singapore at "Japan Art Week" with Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2009 she appeared as a soloist with the Hong Kong Symphonietta at the "La Folle Journée" Festival in Tokyo.
Reiko Watanabe actively performs works of contemporary composers. In the fall of 2009 she gave the world premier performance of Tokuhide Niimi's Violin Concerto No.2 and in 2011 performed all 6 of his violin pieces in one evening. These concerts were highly acclaimed by critics.
As a recording artist, her debut album was the live recording of Berg's Violin Concerto and his rarely found Chamber Concerto for Violin, Piano and 13 Winds, with Dresden Staatskapelle and the late Giuseppe Sinopoli on the Teldec Label. Subsequently she recorded Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich Concertos with St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and conductor Alexander Demitriev and the "My Favorites," a collection of short works for violin and piano. Other highly acclaimed recordings include Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Warner Music and, in 2008, the "Carmen Fantasy" on Avex.
In 2005, for her continued excellence in performances, she was awarded prestigious "Exxon Mobile Music Award" in Japan.
Between her busy concert appearances, she has been asked to be a judge in numerous music competitions. Since 2004, she has given a series of lectures in English on "Music and Performance" at Akita International University as a select professor. In this course, she invites renowned Japanese contemporary composers such as Akira Nishimura and Somei Satoh.
She performs on Stradivarius 1725 violin "Wilhelmj", kindly loaned by Nippon Music Foundation.