Kei Koito's Biography

Studies

baroque organ

Kei Koito was born in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, into a family of artists. Her childhood was steeped in the arts and culture. She was attracted to the world of music at an early age, especially that of J.S. Bach. She began her musical training at the age of six, first with piano, followed by cello and voice. At the age of twelve, she discovered the organ, which soon became her favorite instrument.As a student at Hiranuma College of Yokohama, Kei Koito played the cello for two years in the school orchestra. Also as a proficient pianist, she performed Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto with City Orchestra of Yokohama. After graduation from this High School, she decided to dedicate herself to organ studies. She was sixteen at the time.

Kei Koito graduated from National University of Fine Arts and Music of Tokyo / Tokyo Geijutsu Daigaku, where she achieved high distinctions in organ, harpsichord, music theory, chamber music, philosophy and musical esthetics. She also has a master’s degree from the Conservatory of Geneva / Conservatoire de Genève / Musikhochschule Genf, where she won several prestigious prizes including the First Prize of Organ Virtuosity with distinction, of Improvization and of Basso Continuo, Special Grand Prix of the Year, and Otto Barblan Prize for the best interpretation of J.S. Bach. All was awarded unanimously.

After having attended courses in Toulouse with Xavier Darasse, she studied Early music in Fribourg with organist, harpsichordist and musicologist Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, as well as Baroque music with Baroque violinist and conductor Reinhard Goebel in Cologne. At the same time, she studied philosophy and musical aesthetics at the University of Fine Arts & Music in Tokyo and attended courses in Geneva, in composition, orchestration and musical analysis from the 16th century to the present day with composer Éric Gaudibert.

Teaching

baroque organ

A highly sought-after pedagogue, Kei Koito has been teaching organ at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne (Lausanne University of Music / Musikhochschule Lausanne) since 1992. From the start, her classes included students from all over the world. Some of her students have won prizes at international organ competitions, become organists at famous churches or cathedrals, and others have become concert organists and recording artists. Several other students have pursued careers as professors at conservatories / academies, or even found other artistic professions such as composer, conductor, etc. The goal of Koito’s teaching is to discover or rediscover the originality of each student, which she wishes will prosper later in their individual lives.

JURIES, LECTURES, SEMINARS, MASTERCLASSES

Kei Koito has frequently served as a member of juries at numerous international organ competitions including Wasquehal, St-Omer, Maastricht, Aachen, Liège, Genève, Alkmaar, as well as the Grand Prix Bach de Lausanne and at the 50th St Albans Competition. She has also been invited to give lectures, master-classes and seminars at prestigious institutions such as the Royal Academy of Music in London, Austria Baroque Academy in Gmunden/Salzburg, Conservatory of Rouen, Conservatory of Québec, Conservatory of Buenos Aires, University of Belgrad, and many others.

Artistic Direction

baroque organ

Kei Koito is a founder and artistic director of the Festival Bach de Lausanne (Lausanne Bach Festival / Bachfest Lausanne) created in 1997. The Festival Bach consists of concerts by orchestras, ensembles, choirs, and soloists, as well as conferences, seminars, and master-classes. The musical aesthetics of the festival are always connected to the music of J.S. Bach. The program mainly comprises the repertoires of early music (from the sixteenth to the first half of the eighteenth centuries).

Between 2012 and 2016, she also participated in productions of Baroque operas by Monteverdi, Lully and Purcell, as well as of secular cantatas by J. S. Bach, Handel’s oratorios and other Baroque composers in the framework of the Lausanne Bach Festival at the Opera of the same city.

The Festival Bach de Lausanne has chosen the – in my view – only possible way to pay respect to music that one admires and loves: to take it as it is (in music that can, of course, only mean: try to stay within the possibilities of the period) and not want to adapt it to our own wishes or ideas. We can know a work of art only by its physical exterior; if we change the exterior we obscure or alter the interior. This honest approach of the Festival is admirably reflected in the choice of artists and programmes.

Gustav Leonhardt

Compositions

baroque organ

Between 1980 and 1992, Kei Koito composed quite a few works for various instruments and ensembles.

  • Sensation (on a poem by A. Rimbaud) for voice & piano (1980)
  • Passacaglia for organ (1981)
  • Esquisse Alpha for 2 pianos (1982)
  • Orestes Stasimon for choir (1983)
  • Permutation (adapted from the studies of P. Klee) for organ
    and 2 assistants (1984)
  • Tours du silence for chamber ensemble (voice, woodwinds, brass, percussion & double bass) (1985)
  • Labyrinthe dynamique for brass ensemble (1985)
  • Fragment on "Wenn aus der Ferne …" (on a poem by F. Hölderlin)
    for organ (1986)
  • Splendid Rotation for 2 amplified harpsichords (1986)
  • In step, shoulder to shoulder for string quartet (1986)
  • Passenger (on a poem by J. Nishiwaki) for trumpet & organ (1987)
  • Cristal Axe for organ & 2 assistants / organists (1988)
  • Return (Homage to J.S. Bach) for cello & prepared piano (1989)
  • Poème pulvérisé (on a poem by R. Char) for voice & percussion (1990)
  • Transmutations (unfinished): 
I, for solo voice 
II, for oboe
 III, for trombone 
IV, for percussion 
V, for ensemble.

In 1992, Kei Koito stopped composing and started concentrating solely on baroque organ performance.

Publications

baroque organ

ARTICLES

  • "The Aesthetic of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, about his organ works".
This article was originally published in 1992 in the magazine Organ Kenkyu (Vol. 20, pp. 47–64) –Annual Report of Japan Organ Society on its 20th anniversary. Prior to publication, Kei Koito’s research work was also supported in 1992 by the Department of Early Music at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Lyon (dir. Gérard Geay). The article was also published in Switzerland in the magazine L’Orgue in March, 1996 (pp. 2–14) and in June, 1996 (pp. 13–25). 
    FrJap
  • "On the Sketchbooks of Leonardo da Vinci" in "The Book of My Life" by Thirty Persons of Swiss Romand, Payot Editions, 2011. Fr
  • "Nivers and His Admirers", "The Organ and The Registration for Nivers", "About The Organ Work of Nivers" in "About the composer G.–G. Nivers, Contemporary of Lully". Liner notes/text of musicological & artistic presentation for her double CD, 2006/2007. EngFr
  • "About the Clavier Übung III/Organ Mass of J.S. Bach" 
Liner notes/text of musicological and artistic presentation for her double CD, 1993. EngFr
  • "About 6 Trio Sonatas, 5 Concertos, Canonic Variations for organ of J.S. Bach" Liner notes/text of musicological and artistic presentation for her double CD, 1990. DeEngFr

PREFACES

Preface to The Book of Roger Vuataz, "J.S. Bach or The Apotheosis of Polyphony" in the series "Living Music, Music in Liberty", Slatkine Editions, 2000. Fr

INTERVIEWS

Interview with Kei Koito, Article on The Art of Fugue, liner notes/text of musicological & artistic presentation in the collection "Temperaments" of Radio France for her double CD, 1999. Eng