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Keiko Abe

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Keiko Abe

Biography

Keiko Abe (b. 18 April 1937, Tokyo, Japan) is a Japanese composer and marimba player.

Abe began playing the xylophone while in elementary school in Tokyo, Japan, studying under Eiichi Asabuki. At age 13, she won an NHK talent contest and began performing professionally on live radio. She attended Tokyo Gakugei University where she completed a bachelor's and master's degree in music education. She began working in the Nippon Columbia, NHK and other recording studios while in college.

In 1962, she and two friends (who were also students of Asabuki) founded the Xebec Marimba Trio, performing popular music, arrangements of folk songs and some of Abe's arrangements. They recorded more than seven albums between 1962 and 1966. During this period she had her own show on Japanese television, instructing schoolchildren in xylophone playing, as well as a radio show called Good Morning Marimba. She also began her recording career, putting out 13 albums in a five-year span.

Abe has been a primary figure in the development of the marimba, both in terms of musical usage and the design of the instrument itself. Herr compositions, including Michi, Variation on Japanese Children's Songs, and Dream of the Cherry Blossoms, have become standards of the marimba repertoire. Abe is active in promoting the development of literature for the marimba, not only by writing pieces herself but also commissioning works by other composers and encouraging young composers.

In addition to her heavy composing, touring and recording schedule, Abe is currently a professor at the Toho Gauken School of Music in Tokyo. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, and the first player to develop six-mallet technique.


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