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Rachel Naomi Kudo

First prize winner of the International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig, American pianist Rachel Naomi Kudo is captivating audiences around the globe with her "heartfelt, courageous and perfect playing” (Lübecker Nachrichten) and as a “thrilling” artist with “the highest artistic claim who demonstrates a perfection of technique and precision down to the smallest motivic detail” (Die Rheinpfalz).

Following her orchestral debut with the Chicago and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras, Rachel has performed as both soloist and chamber musician at venues including the Bachfest in Leipzig, Royal Castle in Warsaw, Salle Cortot in Paris, Musikverein in Vienna, Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel, International Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdrój, Poland, Tivoli International Festival in Denmark, Bergen International Festival in Norway, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Alice Tully Hall, David Geffen Hall, and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in New York.

She is a recipient of the Gilmore Young Artist Award, a Davidson Fellow Laureate of the Davidson Institute of Talent Development, and the Salon de Virtuosi Grant. Additionally, she earned scholarships from the National YoungArts Foundation and Rohm Music Foundation, has won numerous top prizes at the U.S. National Chopin Competition in Miami, and has a finalist diploma at the 15th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw.

Born in Washington, D.C., to Japanese-Korean parents, Rachel began her studies with Emilio del Rosario at the Music Institute of Chicago. After spending her childhood in Japan, she returned to Chicago to pursue a musical life, playing chamber music and violin in her high school orchestra, appearing on From the Top on NPR, and studying with Kum-Sing Lee in Vancouver, Canada.

Rachel earned both a Bachelor's and Master of Music degrees at The Juilliard School. She received numerous awards, including the Arthur Rubinstein Prize, Chopin Prize, Sanders/Tel Aviv Art Museum Prize, Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship, and twice as the first prize winner at the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. Her mentors, Yoheved Kaplinsky, and Joseph Kalichstein, guided her through her studies. She then went on to pursue a Professional Studies Diploma with Richard Goode at Mannes College of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the tutelage of Gilbert Kalish at Stony Brook University. Rachel also had the privilege of studying with Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

She received guidance in master classes from Robert Levin, Emanuel Ax, and Sir András Schiff at Carnegie Hall's Professional Training Workshops. Aspen Music Festival and School, International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove, Music@Menlo, Perlman Music Program’s Chamber Music Workshop, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s “Chamber Music Encounters” enriched and broadened her musical horizons.


Rachel believes in sharing the transformative power of music with the broadest possible audience to foster cultural engagement and human connection. As an educator, she is passionate about mentoring the next generation of young musicians and has taught master classes worldwide. She was engaged as a live stream host for the Eighteenth International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and the U.S. National Chopin and Cliburn Junior International Piano Competitions. In February 2021, in a Virtual Special Event for The Gilmore, Rachel presented the world premiere of Marc-André Hamelin’s Suite à l'ancienne, which she commissioned with funding from the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

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