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Interview with Aya Okimoto

Aya is a piano student at the Punahou Music School under the instruction of Mr. Steven Casano. At ten years of age,  Aya entered her first piano competition, the 2019 Steinway Jr. Piano Competition, where she received 1st Prize. Aya has received multiple 1st Prize wins from the GCC (Best Chopin, Best Bach, Rising Talents of the World, and Artist of the Year). In August 2021, 2022, and 2023 she took 1st Prize in the Osaka International Music Competition (Hawai’i Regional Round). In 2023, she placed 1st in both Piano and Violin in the OIMC and HMTA Music Competition. Aya studies classical violin with Mr. Ignace Jang and Jazz violin from Mr. Duane Padilla. She enjoys attending Hawaii Youth Symphony (YS1) and PMI. Her most recent win was in the AVMC, where she won y y1st prize and she performed at Carnegie Hall November 2023. Just recently, for her exemplary performance in the  BTHVN competition, she has been invited to perform in the Gala Concert in Vienna, Austria, in the Gläserner Saal of the Musikverein.

IG: @aya_music27, @wishmakers27

Can you briefly introduce yourself? 

Aloha! My name is Aya Okimoto. I am 15 years old attending Punahou School in Hawaii. I absolutely love music, as well as other things such as being with my friends and playing golf!

Your performance videos include piano, vocals, and violin. You have received high awards for different types of instruments and vocals. How do you manage to excel in so many instruments? 

I believe that the two most important factors in one’s success at playing multiple instruments, is time management and passion. While I often find it difficult, I try my best to balance school work with my piano and violin practice. This strategy has allowed me to be where I am today. I also know that you really need to love music in order to have the motivation to excel at the instruments you decide to pursue. In my case, I really enjoy violin, piano and singing which is the reason I am determined to practice everyday and have been able to reach where I am now.

Your violin & vocal video is fantastic. Could you share with us your thoughts and concepts when you were creating it? 

Thank you so much! My teacher, Mr. Padilla and I, wanted to create a video that had similarities to the original scene of the movie “Annie.” This is why, at first, I was planning to only sing just like how the main character did. However, we still wanted to incorporate originality into our video which is why I thought that I could resemble the orchestra by playing the violin myself. I imagined it would be cool to be able to alternate the vocals and violin during the piece.

Are there any artists or creators who influence your work?

Yes! While there are so many artists and composers that I look up to, one artist that has definitely impacted my life is Lindsey Stirling. When I first discovered and watched a few of her videos, I was fascinated that someone could dance while playing violin at a very skilled level. Her videos have inspired me to learn and play different instruments as anything is possible as long as you try. Of course, some of my other favorite classical composers include Chopin and Rachmaninoff. 

Could you share any upcoming projects or plans for your music career with us?

Absolutely! I plan to continue playing classical, pop, and jazz music on both the piano and violin. I might even decide to try different styles of music as well. In fact, this summer, I will be playing at Gala Concerts in both Vienna and Spain. 


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