March 27, 2011


"There are two kinds of musicians: those who exploit their instrument, and those who don't." Glenn Gould

Tomoko Hagiwara is in the second group of musicians. When you listen to her perform, you do not think: "How masterfully she controls the piano." Instead, Tomoko respects and frees the music through her respectful and sensitive performance.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Tomoko since the 1980s when I worked as a librarian at San Domenico School, a Catholic PK-12 school in the San Anselmo hills of Northern California. I remember in meeting her that one of her first questions was: "Who is your favorite composer?" I answered quickly, "Bartok" because of his unique take on traditional folk songs, which I loved to sing. My response sealed our friendship.

Since then I have written some of Tomoko's program notes, and she asked if we could blog about music and its impact on life. Thus the inspiration for the name of this blog: Signature for life. The term "signature" refers not only to a composition's key and timing, but also indicate the name of a person as written by their own hand. Music is Tomoko's signature, a key part of her identify. She has loved music all her life, and contends that everyone should have music in their lives.

This blog, then, serves that purpose: to share Tomoko's life of music -- and encourage others to experience music, especially classical music, as a way to enrich and fulfill their own lives. As Tomoko says, "Everyone can listen, and everyone can sing."

Tune in.

And as a taste, listen to one of Tomoko's favorites: Chopin's Etude Opus 25, number 1 in A flat major. You'll hear the liquid melody first, and then appreciate its rich and full peacefulness even after the last note is played. You can download it at,, as well as Amazon and iTunes.(

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