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Color, Subtlety and Refinement - A Cosmopolitan Approach to the Violin

Hiroki Kasai headshot with violin
Hiroki Kasai is a twenty-year-old student at the Royal Conservatory of Music. At one time, he wanted to be a professional ballet dancer, but a teacher inspired him to devote himself to playing the violin. He has performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Suntory Hall in Tokyo (Photo: Inis Asano)

I actually originally wanted to become a dancer and I went to ballet class four times a week and just once for violin. But…I found a very fantastic violin teacher in Australia and she really made me love the music more than I used to in Japan and that's when I decided I really want to do music.

Twenty-year-old Hiroki Kasai grew up taking in the cultures of London, Tokyo, Sydney and New York. His love for classical music was instilled by his mother, who took him with her as often as possible to see concerts and ballet performances. When he was young, Kasai started training to become a professional ballet dancer. But an inspirational violin teacher in Australia helped show him just how much he loved the violin. 

Kasai describes himself as shy, but while he’s soft-spoken, his reflections are deep and informed. His sensitivity translates to his violin playing. 

“I really think the instrument is special when it can also speak very softly,” said Kasai. “I think, for humans, when we talk, we don't always talk so loud and scream to other people.”  

Kasai has attended the Royal Conservatory of Music since 2017 where he studies with internationally-recognized violinist Rodney Friend. Kasai credits the 81-year-old Friend with changing the way he thinks about music. 

“He really taught me in the past three years, that music is not about playing all the notes correctly,” said Kasai. “Not just playing what's on the page, but to really show color through music - through sound.”

Hiroki will be a senior competitor in Menuhin Competition Richmond 2021After the pandemic caused the Royal Conservatory of London to close its doors, Hiroki left his small London flat to wait it out with his family in Japan. He sent us this video to tell us how he is doing and how he has coped during the pandemic.


Hiroki's interview was recorded by Peregrine Andrews at Moving-Air Audio Production in London.This episode was produced by Mike Goldberg and managing producer Peter Solomon. Peter also mixed the episode and it was edited by Executive Producer Catherine Komp.