Pianist-composer-arranger Yuko Maruyama is from Tokyo, Japan. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a master’s degree in Jazz Studies. While at USC she studied classical and jazz piano performance, theory, composition and arranging. She was named the ‘Outstanding Graduate’ by the department and her original composition “Twilight” was featured in Jazz at USC, the first CD produced by the department. As a classical pianist, she was a first-prize winner in the Duo Piano Competition in San Diego during her years at USC.
Yuko has performed extensively with a wide variety of ensembles, from classical trios and church choirs to Latin jazz and big bands. She has also been the featured performer at several prestigious engagements including the California Welcome Receptions for Consul General and Mrs. Masaharu Kohno; for the former Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, and at numerous benefit events including the “Concert of the Century II” with artists Hiroshima and Kilahuea; and the Los Angeles Pacific Asian Heritage Festival. Yuko is also active in scoring original soundtracks for multimedia and television productions including the television documentary, Teaching Us to See.
Yuko has toured the U.S. with her CD “In Tone Nation” for Kawai Piano Company in 2002. The album contains all original compositions and was the first recording to feature the Shigeru Kawai piano, a special line of all handcrafted concert grand pianos from Japan. The CD was released as both a stereo audio CD and as a DVD audiophile recording that features both a DVD Audio 5.1 Surround mix and a 96kHZ/24-bit Advanced Resolution Stereo version. Yuko’s new album project, “Piano Bento,” features her original compositions and arrangements as well as the Shigeru Kawai piano, and this time she incorporates an assortment of other pianos, from antiquated to electronic, to create a unique blend of sounds and instrumentation.
In addition to performing and composing, Yuko also has extensive experience teaching classical and jazz piano as well as coaching vocalists and instrumentalists in band settings. For students in theory, arranging and jazz improvisation, she regularly writes arrangements and produces her own teaching material. Yuko was recently a guest artist session presenter at the MTAC State Convention in Los Angeles, and in her session entitled: “Jazz Improvisation: The Key to Superior Musicianship,” she discussed the importance of incorporating jazz improvisation in music lessons to elevate students’ overall musicianship. Yuko is an active member of the Music Teachers’ Association of California San Diego Branch and helps organize some of its events in her spare time.