About

Dr. Rie Tanaka is a Pianist, music educator, and wellness specialist.

Native of Osaka, Japan, Rie is a prize winner of international and national competitions in Japan and the U.S. She was the winner of the MTNA Young Artist Competition in the West Central Division, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. She also won top prizes at Schubert Club Competition (1st), Chautauqua Piano Competition (Finalist, Commissioned Piece Award), Rosenstock International Piano Competition (Special Judge’s Award), to name a few.

Rie maintains a full concert schedule for solo and chamber performances. She was featured on Minnesota Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Radio, StarTribune, Des Moines Symphony Orchestra’s DMSO at Home, Leif Eriksson International Festival, among many regional channels and concert series. She has appeared in venues such as NHK Osaka hall, Phoenix hall in Osaka Japan, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Landmark Center in St. Paul, Thrasher Opera House in Wisconsin, among others.

As a chamber musician, she often collaborates with her husband and cellist Jesse Nummelin (assistant principal Cellist of Des Moines Symphony Orchestra) as Duo Ihana. She has been a guest pianist with the South Beach Chamber Ensemble for their annual Wisconsin tour for the past 8 years, performing numbers of major Piano Trios, Quartets, and Quintets. She has collaborated with members of the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Phoenix Symphony, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, and many other notable musicians.

Rie’s passion to create an innovative performance of Classical music lead to a collaborative partnership with a ballet dancer and choreographer Ms. Yuki Tokuda. Together they founded a multi-disciplinary group, “Mirage Performing Arts” in 2019. Their inaugural concert was sold out for all three shows, and was featured as “the week’s best Classical concert” by StarTribune. Their projects during the Covid-19 pandemic ranged from a virtual benefit concert raising over $1,000 for a Covid-19 relief fund, to an outdoor performance on the fountain in Peavey Plaza, as well as various other video collaborations.

Rie has been an advocate for musician’s wellness ever since she went through injuries on both of her wrists in 2012. As a certified Yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance with an RYT 200, she has lead Yoga classes and lectures at Rebecca Penney’s Piano Festival, Green Lake Chamber Music Camp, Saint Paul Chamber Music Institute, and Minnesota International Piano Camp. She presented her doctoral thesis, “Wellness for Musicians; Blueprint to Your Very Own Injury Prevention Course,” at various Music Teachers Associations in states of Minnesota, South Dakota, and Washington. In response to Covid-19, she co-directed an online course “Peaceful Musicians: 5-Day Challenge” and taught at the University of Arizona as well as independently, which included daily live class via ZOOM: lecture, Yoga, meditation, workbooks and more.

Rie attended the prestigious music program at Yuhigaoka High School in Osaka, Japan, which led to the musical tour in Vienna, Austria, performing in Wiener Musikverein. She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, where she studied under Dr. Raffi Besalyan. While there, she was a recipient of more than 15 scholarships and awards for her excellence in performance and academia. She received a Master’s and Doctor of Musical Art degrees in Piano Performance at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, studying under Alexander Braginsky and serving as a teaching assistant for five years.

Rie is a piano faculty at the Saint Paul Conservatory of Music, and Mount Olivet School of Music.

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