Japanese violinist and violist Kaya Kuwabara studied violin at the Tokyo University of the Arts before moving to London in 2009. At the Royal College of Music, Kaya completed a second bachelor’s degree in music, graduating with first class honours. Here, she continued her studies and in 2013, completed a Master of Music under the tutelage of Radu Blidar.

Kaya actively performs throughout Europe and her orchestral experience includes the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra and the Atlantic Music Festival Orchestra, working with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös.

Whilst experienced in performing classical repertoire, Kaya is also particularly active in the contemporary classical music scene, and has appeared in numerous contemporary music festivals including the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, MADE festival in Sweden, Harare International Festival of Arts in Zimbabwe and the Big Bang festival in Belgium, France and Portugal. Kaya has also been invited to perform with ensembles such as the Ictus Ensemble, Spectra Ensemble and the New European Ensemble.

As a founding member of the London-based contemporary ensemble Dr K Sextet, Kaya has performed in venues across the UK and is now a violinist in the Brussels-based ensemble Fractales. Previous projects include a solo recital at the Swiss Embassy in Tokyo and performances of dance and music pieces co-created with dancers from P.A.R.T.S.


What or who inspired you to become a professional musician?
I was already 23 when I actively decided to become a professional musician, though I had played the violin for 15 years – I know it’s pretty late. It was probably the teacher I studied with in London who strongly encouraged me to try performing contemporary music. Contemporary music has given me inspiration and self‐confidence, and thanks to that, now I also admire Classical repertoire much more than before!

What’s on your playlist right now?
A random collection, no violin music!
Bach Partita No 1 in B flat major by Dinu Lipatti, Enno Poppe Gelöschte Lieder, Bajka In Wonderland, and Ametsubi The Nothings Of The North.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
I didn’t even touch the violin for two years after graduating from university in Japan. When I took it up again in London, I was already 22 and I couldn’t even play a G major scale properly. The first year in London was the most exciting period in my life so far because my playing improved incredibly, it was really a lot of fun.