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Naoko Akutagawa was born in Hiroshima in 1974 and studied piano there from the age of three and in Tokyo with Masayasu Oshima. At sixteen she switched to the harpsichord, and studied privately with Chiyoko Arita before entering her class at the Toho Gakuen College of Music. Her chamber music instructor there was Masahiro Arita. She took her soloist diploma in 1997. In that year she entered the Musikhochschule in Würzburg, Germany, as a student of Glen Wilson, ending her studies with the Meisterklasse diploma in 2001. She was appointed assistant professor in 1999, a position in which she continues to the present. Her recordings have been broadcast by the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Company and by Japanese State Radio.

Naoko Akutagawa made her début recording for Naxos in 2005 with the complete works for harpsichord by Gaspard Le Roux (8.557884), and followed this with a highly acclaimed selection of works by Graupner (8.570459), selected works by Bernardo Storace (8.572209), and violin sonatas by Franz Benda (8.572307).

She was a prizewinner of the 2006 Bonporti Competition in Rovereto, Italy, and at the 2008 Göttingen Handel Festival Competition, and in 2007 was a guest music member of staff at the Netherlands Opera, Amsterdam. In 2012 she was guest lecturer and recitalist at Toho Gakuen.

Role: Classical Artist 
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