Pianist Hidemi Minagawa ’20 performed at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Sept. 26, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Minagawa is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma and studies with Distinguished Artist-in-Residence, Chair of Keyboard Division and Professor of Piano John O’Conor, Mus.D. Minagawa was awarded a Student Development Grant to support her opportunity. Funding for these grants is made possible in part by the generosity of Dean’s Circle members.
Minagawa said securing the performance was a somewhat unexpected, whirlwind affair. One of her aunts, who is Chinese, but living in Japan, was helping the organizer of the entertainment by assisting her in communicating better with Chinese performers. When the organizer noted, just a few days prior to the celebration, that a pianist was needed, Minagawa’s aunt contacted her niece. Minagawa quickly agreed to perform, even though she knew few scores existed for solo piano performances of the Chinese folk tunes to be played at the embassy event. Both Dr. O’Conor and Dean Stepniak helped her quickly receive a Student Development Grant, which is used for costs related to international performances, presentations, conferences and educational opportunities.
She sought out scores, but none provided just what she needed. After she arrived in Japan on a Monday, she created the piano arrangements she needed for her Thursday performance.
At the celebration, as she played a grand piano situated at the corner of the hall, she watched as everyone from sumo wrestlers to a ballet legend to former Japanese prime ministers, entered and mingled. The celebration occurred during a high point in Chinese-Japanese relations, and Minagawa said being present at such and event at such a time was particularly meaningful for her, since her family is both Chinese and Japanese. The event, which drew about 2,000 guests, also provided her with an opportunity to speak Chinese, Japanese and English, which meant she could communicate well with just about everyone at the venue.
Minagawa said the trip was her first back home in about five years, and while it was swift, she was also able to meet up with family members (two of her aunts also came to the event) and her middle school best friend before returning to the United States. She added that as a result of her trip, she hopes to perhaps secure more performances in Japan.