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Rachel Naomi Kudo: Finding Her Own Voice
Passion and persistence in a career fueled by love

by Rebekah Krushnisky / © 2023, ORTV.


Passion and intelligence are two words that leap to mind when listening to Rachel Naomi Kudo play piano. Born in Washington, D.C., to a Japanese economist father and a Korean mother, Kudo started taking piano lessons at the tender age of 4. No one in her family was a professional musician, but her parents and paternal grandmother were classical music enthusiasts who often played classical music recordings at home, and her grandmother played the piano as a hobby. Thus, it was natural for Kudo to start taking piano lessons as a child.

  Music became a central part of Kudo’s life, and she continued to study piano when the family moved from Japan to Chicago when she was 13 years old. When she was 14, Kudo made her recital debut at the International Chopin Festival in Poland. Kudo would go on to win numerous prestigious piano competitions around the world, study with top piano maestros and graduate with degrees from the world-renowned music conservatory, The Juilliard School in New York.


Persisting in music

  The path to becoming a top performance pianist is arduous and requires tremendous discipline, thousands of hours of practice and great personal sacrifice. Some promising young musicians burn out along the way or choose other careers that may be more financially secure or less demanding. Although she loved many things in her student years, such as reading, sports and law, her love of music trumped them all.

  More than 30 years on in this musical journey, Kudo has persisted in music because playing piano is how she best expresses herself. It has become an integral part of her being. For Kudo, musicians are like explorers who dig into the compositions of great composers like Bach and Chopin and discover new angles and dimensions with each new exploration. There is a richness and depth in these musical works waiting to be discovered.


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