A prizewinner of numerous competitions including the gold medal at the San Antonio International Piano Competition, Naoko Takao enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist, chamber musician, and a researcher.
Recent and upcoming engagements include: an all-Beethoven solo recital, concerto appearances (Mozart’s K. 459, 503, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue), and recordings with the Smithsonian Chamber Ensemble, a long-time affiliation including a GRAMMY nominated album. She has appeared at prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, Weill Recital Hall, Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress, Lensic Performing Arts Center (Santa Fe), Carammor, Le Domaine Forget (Canada), and Taipei National Concert Hall.
While known for her affinity to works by Beethoven, Chopin, and Rachmaninov, Takao is equally sought after as an enthusiastic advocate of newly composed music. She has premiered many works to high acclaim at organizations such as the Society of Composers and International Alliance for Women in Music. Her critically acclaimed 2015 release of the complete 12 piano sonatas by Vincent Persichetti is followed by another album of his chamber music. She can be heard on Capstone, Centaur, Dorian, Elan, and Friends of Smithsonian labels. She was also a member of the Washington D. C. based Post Classical Ensemble and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra as an orchestral pianist. As an adjudicator, she has been invited as a juror for a variety of competitions, from San Antonio International Piano Competition (Texas, U.S.A.), WPTA International Piano Competition (Novi Sad, Serbia), to Discover Chamber Music Competition (Chicago, U.S.A.).
Combining her unique performance background with research, she directs the graduate programs in Keyboard Performance and Pedagogy at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami where she is Associate Professor. Her research interest of late is on cognitive neuroscience and its application to piano performance and learning efficiency, which resulted in a winning grant proposal.