Aiki Mori – Talented Cello Player, Competition Winner and Member of Mori Trio
By Mike Sullivan
Please introduce yourself and your background. Where is your family originally from in Japan?
I’m from a City called Ichinimiya. It’s about 30km from Nagoya. I grew up there until I was five, then I moved to Tokyo with my family. My father loves to listen to music. My mother studied piano, and taught in a university not far from Nagoya.
One of my earliest memories is of my sister Asa, who is seven years older than me, practicing the piano with my mother. I used to listen to her, and later I started to imitate her.
I understand that you studied at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln in Germany?
Yes, Since my childhood, it was my dream to study music in Europe. My sister had started to study at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln, I followed her and moved to Germany when I was 15.
There I studied with a fantastic Swedish cellist, Frans Helmerson. Who had studied with Rostropovich and also with Wiliam Pleeth. And I also met many colleagues and musicians whom I adore. So, my going there was a hugely important change.
You perform frequently in concerts around the world, what would you say has been your favorite experience so far?
One of the most impressive experiences was tour to Russia. The attitude of respecting culture, and how the people respect artists was extreme. Concerts often don’t start on time, but the audience waits even in the snowy weather! They wait until the artists are ready. And listen with such an intensity. Also, I was so moved that people brought flowers and presents, even if they had never heard of me. Those traditions of the former Soviet Union impressed me so much.
What is your favourite piece of music from your repertoire?
I always try to feel, the piece which I am playing right now, is my favorite and the best piece. So deciding a concert programme, is also a very creative moment for me.
What would you say are the challenges for playing as a soloist compared with chamber music?
To play as a soloist with an orchestra, is more like playing chamber music for me. I need to lead more, and also I need more physical strength than in the case of chamber music. But to communicate with other musicians, that’s the mutual feeling for me.
When I play solo pieces like Bach suites, it’s a different story. I play the whole music alone, and I need to go deeply into my self.
Have you had any thoughts about making an album in future?
Yes, with my Trio, which we recently founded. It’s called “Mori Trio”, there I play with my sister, and a fantastic German violinist, Werner von Schnitzler. We don’t know the exact program yet. But we wish to make an album sometime in the future.
To what extent do you feel that your music is influenced by your Japanese roots?
I started to study in Europe when I was quite young, so I think musically I’m much more influenced by european culture, but of course I have memories, which are strongly connected with Japanese traditions or life style. I often have moments, where I feel that those memories influence my music emotionally.
Do you have any concerts coming up?
Yes, I’ll be performing a few concerts with “Mori trio”. We are building up our repertoire now, and we will be playing a Mendelssohn trio, Haydn’s “Gipsy” trio, Dvorak’s “Dumky” trio, etc,. in the coming season.
There will also be a few concerts with “Duo Mori” coming up. We will be playing a Chopin sonata which we worked on and also performed almost ten years ago. I’m so glad, that I can come back, working on this huge fantastic sonata again. Also a few duo concerts with a Kazakh pianist with some pretty short pieces.
You can view more details about Miss Mori and her upcoming performances on her website:
Do you have any thoughts about performing in Japan?
I haven’t performed in Japan for a long time, but I will be playing a trio concert in January with my sister and a violinist of the NHK symphony orchestra. I like the intensity of the audiences there, which has done much to further my powers of concentration since my childhood.
How often do you visit Japan? What is your favourite thing about Japan?
I normally go to Japan twice a year. I’m always impressed by how people work or behave with such responsibility and discipline.
What do traditional Japanese crafts mean to you? What is your favourite Japanese craft?
I like many things, but I would say to see Ukiyoe, bamboo crafts and also fine old buildings are favorite things. They make me to go deeply within myself.
If you could learn to make anything, i.e. crafts, what would you make?
Porcelain. My grandfather used to make it but I missed the chance to do so.
Finally, any last words for anyone interested in Japanese culture?
Recently, I visited Inuyama castle in Aichi prefecture. It is the oldest original castle in Japan. It’s not one of the most popular places to visit, but I recommend seeing it at least once, to feel the fine and noble character of Japan.