When pianist Junko Ichikawa played a portion of the Brahms’ Intermezzo, Op.118, No.2, her friend, teacher and mentor Seymour Bernstein said “A dream… That was better than mine. You’re not allowed to play better than I do”. Whether said in jest or not, this was high praise coming from Bernstein, the subject of the award winning documentary, “Seymour: An Introduction”, directed by Ethan Hawke.
Seymour Bernstein was the reason Junko left Japan to study piano in America. Born in Obihiro on Japan’s Northern Island, Hokkaido, Junko began playing at the age of four. At age fifteen, Junko made her American concert debut playing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No.1 with the Obihiro Reed Orchestra in Salt Lake City, Utah. She performed as a soloist with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (Tokyou), the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, the Wiener Residenz Orchestra and many more.
Junko earned her degrees in piano performance from Tokyo University of Arts (Geidai), New York University, Mannes College of Music, and her Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) at the Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University. She has studied with Kiseko Takenaka, Keiko Takenaka, Teruji Karashima, Diane Walsh, Min Kwon and Seymour Bernstein.
Junko has been the recipient of top prizes in various competitions, including the second prize at the Dichler/Sato International Piano Competition in Vienna, the first prize at the Mainichi Piano Competition in Japan, and many more.
Currently based in New York City, Junko has performed all over the world, including solo recitals at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Steinway Hall in New York, The Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, the Halbturn Palace, the Palais Auersperg in Austria and many other recital halls.
In addition to solo recitals and concertos, Junko is an active collaborative pianist. She has collaborated with distinguished artists such as Aprile Millo, Todd Phillips, Maron Khoury, and Liang Wang. She served as an official accompanist and assistant at Altenburg Music Academy in Austria. Currently, she is a staff accompanist at Mason Gross School of Arts, Rutgers University.