May 15, 2015

Humming a few notes about Tomoko

I met Tomoko in the fall of 1984 at San Domenico School. We were both new faculty members; she taught piano, and I was the library director. Over lunch we began chatting about music, and she asked me to name my favorite composer. I said, “Bartok,” and that impressed her. 

A while later, she asked me if I would write program notes for her piano recital, which I happily did – it sharpened my music research and analysis skills. As a gift of thanks, she gave my husband and me two tickets for a concert of Yo-Yo Ma, just as he was starting to gain fame. I attended a few of her concerts, and appreciated her mastery of technique and interpretation. I also entered her daughter’s world: tutoring her a bit for SATs, and transcribing oral histories of her St. Moritz Ice Skating Club.

Even since I moved to Southern California, we have kept in contact. When Tomoko started creating CDs of her performances, I wrote short notes about each piece while enjoying listening to her nuanced recordings. She then approached me about writing a blog about her musical life, which led to several long interviews about her upbringing in Japan, her immigration to the States, and her professional and personal journey. What a rich and soulful life she has shared with me and the world – something I have tried to capture at least a little bit in this blog.  We are also in the process of writing a book about her life; incredible, no?

I feel so honored to be part of Tomoko’s life. I consider her a special friend; she continues to make a positive difference in my life.