Great Musicians have been linked with their instruments throughout the history of music.  We are truly fortunate to be able to hear and experience the artistry of Keiko Abe playing marimba.  Audiences hearing her performance for the first time are often astonished by the modern marimba’s wealth of tonal nuances and by the tremendous scope of Abe’s creativity and musicianship.  Keiko Abe has the ability to merge with her marimba: the resulting union produces music with incredible depth of feeling.  She represents a perfect combination of virtuoso technique and passionate artistry.

 Keiko Abe has developed her position as a world-class musician thanks to a rare combination of creative power, acute sensitivity and virtuosic technique.  She commands an overwhelming repertoire and appears regularly throughout the world in performances of solo concertos, chamber music, and improvisations.  She is also in demand as a guest lecturer and has given master-classes in leading music conservatories in North America, Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.

In addition, she has recorded extensively on the Denon label, and has received numerous awards, including induction into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame Award.  Keiko Abe’s compositions have become some of the standards of marimba literature and can be heard in recitals by marimbists all over the world.  Many modern composers have also dedicated new works to her; she has inspired and premiered countless new compositions.

By both pioneering new technical skills and expanding the literature, Keiko Abe has transformed what was once considered a primitive “Folk” instrument into a full-fledged concert instrument welcome in any of the most prestigious concert halls.  In addition to her work as Professor of Marimba at Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, Abe maintains a full schedule of composing and touring.

Awards & Activities

  • Awarded the Fine Arts Festival Award in 1968, ’69, ’71, ’74, 76 and ’89 (Japan)
  • Awarded the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1993 (USA)
  • Composed over 80 pieces
  • Commissioned more than 70 pieces
  • Recorded over 50 titles including CD・DVD・VIDEO
  • Performed over 186 world premiers
  • Master classes and teaching at over 90 Conservatories and universities worldwide
  • Participated in over 50 International Festivals
  • Concerto Soloist with Orchestra – over 200 concerts
  • Solo Concert Artist – over 3000 concerts
  • Chamber Music Performer – over 500 concerts
  • In concert with jazz musicians – over 50 concerts
  • Special jury at the 1st World Marimba Competition Stuttgart, Germany, 1996
  • Chairperson of jury at the 2nd World Marimba Competition Okaya, Japan, 1999
  • Artistic director at the Percussion Festival in Japan Week at Seoul, Korea, 1999
  • Special jury at the 3rd World Marimba Competition Stuttgart, Germany, 2002
  • Special jury at the International Marimba Competition in Paris, 2003
  • Honorable Jury at International Marimba Concerto Competition, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2005
  • Artistic Director and Jury at the 4th World Marimba Competition, Shanghai, 2005
  • Honorable Jury at the Marimba Competition Belgium 2007
  • Jury at the 56th ARD International Music Competition Munich 2007
  • Honorable Jury at the 5th World Marimba Competition 2008 Stuttgart