Chie Hirai studied piano at the Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 1997 before specializing on the fortepiano under Stanley Hoogland at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague where she received her Master’s Degree in 2002 with distinction. In addition, she awarded the Nicolaï Prize as the best student of the year.
On the competition podium, Chie was a prizewinner of the 38th International Fortepiano Competition in Bruges in 2001 and also at the Internationaal Van Wassenaer Competition in 2004. In the same year, she won the IYAP (International Young Artist’s Presentation) in Antwerp.
In the Mozart year, 2006, Chie received several invitations to perform at European festivals. Her Austrian tour with L’Orfeo Barockorchester in particular received great success, and she was described as “the expert of this instrument…(a) virtuoso without any trace of vanity…” (Wiener Zeitung) etc.
Since 2006, Chie works in a duo with the celebrated cellist Hidemi Suzuki. Their first CD (complete piano and cello works of Mendelssohn), released by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, was awarded the National Art Festival Award from the Agency for Cultural Affairs Japan. They have also been filmed in concert and broadcasted by NHK television in Japan.
As a soloist,
Chie has established her own recital series, “Composers fascinated by Viennese Pianos”. The inaugural recital in 2006 was welcomed enthusiastically by critics:
“The music had its own breath under her fingers, the instrument must be rather difficult to control, but she had a complete command to allow her to choose the proper sonorities with the right taste. The performance was of highest quality”. (MUSICA NOVA, Tokyo)
Chie is currently in demand as a soloist and chamber musician in various ensembles in both Europe and Japan. She has been appearing in the major early music festivals in Europe such as the Festival de Musica Antiga de Barcelona (Spain), Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht (Holland), Académies Musicales Festival in Saintes (France), The Felicja Blumental International Music Festival (Israel) and Carinthische Sommer (Austria). Many radio broadcasting and recordings were made by such as Radio France (Paris, France), ARF (Wien, Austria) etc. She was an official accompanist in International early music competition in Bruges in 2005.
Since 2007 she has been regularly invited as a fortepiano exam committee member at the Amsterdam Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague.