HIDEAKI HIRAI, who has “a talent deeply ingrained in his genes” (The Den), is one of the most gifted young conductors from Japan. He belongs to the Hirai family, famous in the classical music field in Japan. In 2013, “Maestro Hirai made a remarkable Carnegie Hall debut” (The New York Culture Examiner) with rave reviews such as “especially impressive, dynamic, confident, justly deserving of the standing ovation” (The New York Concert Review), conducting from the memory the Beethoven 9th Symphony with New York Festival Orchestra (NYFO). Upon a great success, NYFO has appointed him Music Director and Conductor, starting from 2014/15 season. In May, 2017, Maestro Hirai will make his debut at prestigious Wiener Konzerthaus with Ensemble Wien Klang. In October, he will have such a rare honor to conduct his own “Ave Maria” in the official mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Since 1998, as a Co-founder, he frequently conducts the Czech Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, now serving as Principal Guest Conductor.
Highlights in the 2012/13 season include his sensational debut at the Wiener Staatsoper, immediately followed by a successful return during 2013/14 season, and his successful debut in Salzburg for the Austrian premiere of his own acclaimed opera, “Princess from the Moon”, which has been performed more than 30 times in such cities as Canberra, Prague, Anif, Los Angeles and many cities in Japan. Besides, Maestro Hirai has written two other operas: "True Love of Komachi" and "The White Fox" which have also become very popular to enjoy many performances in Japan. In 1997 he was the first prize-winner of the Sixth International Conducting Competition in Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic). In 2001 Mr. Hirai was chosen by Lorin Maazel as one of the ten promising conductors in Asia.
He has conducted many leading orchestras including the Cadaques Chamber Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra, Croatian Radio-TV Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Finnish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic, Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic, Pleven Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Silesian Philharmonic, Sofia Sinfonietta and most of the major orchestras in Japan such as New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra as well as appeared at such festivals as Martinu Festival, Young Prague Music Festival (Czech Rep.), Japan Festival (U.S.A.) and Martha Argherich Music Festival (Beppu, Japan).
Acknowledged as opera conductor, Maestro Hirai has been a frequent guest with the prestigious New National Theatre, Tokyo. Following his successful debut with Mitridate and Lucio Silla (Mozart) in November 2003, Maestro Hirai was immediately offered re-engagements with Marriage of Figaro in April 2005 and with Serse (Handel) in January 2006. His recent opera performances include productions of La Boheme, Carmen, Madame Butterfly, and La Traviata.
Mr. Hirai, born into a celebrated musical family, studied piano, violin and composition with his grandfather, eminent composer Kozaburo Hirai and cello with his father, Takeichiro Hirai (www.takeichiro-hirai.com), noted cellist whom Pablo Casals designated as his successor. Hideaki Hirai graduated from the University of Rochester (New York) with a Bachelor’s degree in political science, where he studied conducting under David Effron at the Eastman School of Music. He completed his Master’s degree in conducting at the Peabody Conservatory of the John’s Hopkins University under Frederik Prausnitz, followed by further studies under Otakar Trhlik at the Janacek Academy of Music (Czech Republic) and his mentor Sir Colin Davis in London.
"...Maestro Hirai was especially impressive. Conducting from memory, he demonstrated his deep knowledge of the score with unflagging energy and intense concentration. He was dynamic, confident, and completely engaged for the entire 75 minutes. It was especially interesting to me that he “sang” along with the chorus with evident joy on his face. It was among the best of the live performances I have heard of this work and justly deserving of the standing ovation it was accorded. Bravo to all! "