Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Natsuko Ejiri moved to Japan when she was two and half years old and started playing the piano when she was four at Yamaha Music School. She began studying privately at age six with Naoko Sugai and Miyuki Kurosawa. Since coming to the U.S, she has performed numerous solo recitals and concerti, as well as extensive collaboration with other performers. She earned her Master of Music degree in piano performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as a student of Shigeo Neriki, and a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance at California State University, Northridge, where she studied with Edward Francis and Francois Regnat.
As an educator, Ms. Ejiri has taught privately since 2000, served on the faculty of the Merit School of Music in Chicago from 2011-2012, and since moving to Texas has maintained a private studio of at least 35 students every year. She is experienced in both traditional pedagogy as well as the Suzuki method, having completed her books 1 and 2 Suzuki training under Rita Hauck. Since 2017, Ms. Ejiri has taught at the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra Suzuki program. Active in educational outreach as well as teaching, she has performed for the Cliburn educational program “Cliburn in the Classroom” since 2016, performing at more than 50 public schools for 2nd through 4th graders throughout the DFW area. She is grateful to have such a variety of opportunities to interact with students, and always looks forward to welcoming new faces each semester!
As a pianist, Ms. Ejiri was a distinguished accompanist of Janos Starker’s studio and the cello department of the String Academy Program from 2007 to 2011 at IU. Later, she served as a staff accompanist of Stephen Balderston’s cello studio at DePaul University in Chicago. She has worked closely with the students of Janos Starker, Eric Kim, Peter Stumpf, Sharon Robinson, Bruce Bransby, Lawrence Hurst, Atar Arad, Mimi Zweig and Susan Moses. In addition to her work as a collaborative artist, she has appeared as the keyboardist of the New World Symphony in Miami, the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, the Debut Orchestra, and the American Youth Symphony in California. She has worked closely with conductors Esa-Pekka, Michel Tilson Thomas, Scott Yoo, David Effron, Cliff Colnot, Mark Gibson and Hans Graf. Ms. Ejiri is currently the principal keyboardist of the Abilene Philharmonic.
Pianist Evan Mitchell’s performance highlights include solo recitals on the Dame Myra Hess Concerts in Chicago and at Merkin Concert Hall in New York; concerti with the symphony orchestras of Dallas, Fort Worth, Victoria, and others; and frequent chamber and collaborative engagements throughout the country and internationally. His outreach work has included hundreds of performances for Cliburn in the Classroom, in addition to concerts with Texas Winds Musical Outreach and Fort Worth Opera. Dr. Mitchell serves on the board of Mount Vernon Music, and since 2014 has been a featured artist on the TCA Texas Touring Roster.
Dr. Mitchell maintains a private teaching studio in Fort Worth and serves on the faculty of Tarrant County College. His students have won prizes in the FWMTA Solo Contest, UTA Fall Contest, TMTA Original Composition contest, and competed as finalists and semifinalists in the Juanita Miller Competition and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition. Dr. Mitchell has recently given masterclasses and lectures as a guest clinician at Southwestern University, Texas Wesleyan University, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Florida, and Western Kentucky University. He has adjudicated for events including the Dallas International Piano Competition and TMTA Performance Contest, and currently serves as President of the Fort Worth Music Teachers Association.
Dr. Mitchell began his piano studies with Dr. Thomas Parente, later continuing with Dr. Brandt Fredriksen at the Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division. He received his MM and BM degrees in piano performance as a student of Professor Arnaldo Cohen at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and earned the DMA degree at Texas Christian University, where he studied with John Owings and the late Artist-in-Residence José Feghali.