Praised by the Baseler Zeitung and Bangkok Post for her „personal and captivating style“ and „polished, powerful and refined“ performance, Hitomi Niikura pursues a successful career as a soloist who with her passion has captured the hearts of audiences across the world.
While still a student at Toho Gakuen, Niikura released her debut album „Song of the Birds“ with EMI Music Japan in 2006 and performed her debut concert at Kioi Hall in Tokyo. She has since played in concerts and recitals with various renowned orchestras in Japan and abroad, such as Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo City Philharmonic, Yamagata Symphony Orchestra, Japan-Century Orchestra, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Kansai Philharmonic, Central Aichi Orchestra, and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa as well as with Chamber Orchestra Basel, and the Royal Bangkok Symphony Orchestra. She also regularly appeared on both TV and radio. After two more albums with EMI Music Japan – “Träumerei” and “Largo-Salut d’Amour” – her 4th album “Elgar Cello Concerto” was released in 2015 with Sony Music Direct. One year later the label Live Notes published her live recordings of Brahms and Rachmaninoff Cello sonatas, and in February 2017 Sony Music Direct produced her 5th full-length album “Inori – Prayer”.
In 2003 she received the IMA Music Prize from the Ishikawa Music Academy, together with a Fulbright scholarship to join the following year’s Aspen Music Festival in the United States. At the 28th Kirishima International Music Festival in 2007 she won the festival’s main prize. Two years later she was awarded the first prize in the category chamber music at the Romanian International Music Competition in Tokyo. In 2015, she was a laureate at the Orpheus Chamber Music Competition in Bern, Switzerland, and won the first prize at the Internacional Verão Clássico 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal. Luxury watch manufacturer Carl. F. Bucherer awarded her with the „Pathos Woman Award“ in May 2016. Less than a year later, in February 2017, she received the 18th „Hotel Okura Music Prize“.
With home bases in both Zurich and Tokyo, Hitomi Niikura enjoys various aspects of her life as a performer. Since 2014, she has been assistant principal cellist at Camerata Zurich chamber orchestra and has been invited to various music festivals as a member of the locally popular Klezmer band „Cheibe Balagan", thus broadening her musical repertoire. In 2016, she presented her own dress line for performers and audiences, a collaboration with the fashion label JILL STUART and the Japanese luxury department store ISETAN Mitsukoshi, which was well-received by the critics. In August 2017, Japanese cable TV channel BS Fuji broadcasted an exclusive documentary about her life and career as a musician. Since October 2017, a recording of the Hitomi Niikura String Quartet has been on broadcast as the theme song for TV Asahi’s popular program “Walking the world’s country roads”.
Born 1985 in Tokyo, Hitomi Niikura spent her childhood in the United States and Germany. At the age of eight, she started to play the cello. Back in her homeland, she attended Jr. High School St. Hilda and Toho High School in Tokyo. She completed her undergraduate studies at Toho Gakuen School of Music, majoring in music. As the best student of her college, she was invited to play for the Japanese Emperor at the annual newcomer concert in Toka Concert Hall. Subsequently, Niikura excelled at the Conservatory in Basel, Switzerland, completing both her soloist and teaching degree with highest honors. So far she has refined her playing under the direction of Jan Vymyslicky, Hakuro Mori, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, Thomas Demenga, and Martin Zeller (baroque cello), as has attended chamber music master classes with Tsugio Tokunaga and Koichiro Harada.
She currently plays a Giovanni Battista Grancino cello built in 1694 on loan from the Munetsugu Collection.