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 the Schubert Club Competition (1st), Chautauqua Piano Competition (Finalist, Commissioned Piece Award), New York Piano Festival and Competition (finalist), 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’s “Your Classical,” Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Route 51” and StarTribune’s “The Week’s Best Classical Concerts,” among many regional channels and press. She has performed in venues such as NHK Osaka hall, Phoenix hall in Osaka Japan, the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Landmark Center in St. Paul, and Thrasher Opera House in Wisconsin. She was the featured artist at the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra’s DMSO at Home, Leif Eriksson International Festival, Bayfield Summer Concert Series, Schubert Club’s Courtroom Concerts, St. Louis Park Summer Concert Series, and Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District.
As a chamber musician, she often collaborates with her husband 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 10 years, performing numbers of major Piano Trios, Quartets, and Quintets. She has collaborated with members of the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Phoenix Symphony, and many other notable musicians.
Rie’s passion to create an innovative performance of Classical music led 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, after their initial sold-out concerts. Their performances were presented by national and international organizations such as Green Minneapolis, the City of St. Louis Park, Japanese American Society of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and Compassion International. In 2022, their first Japanese tour recorded unseen sold out in Shiga prefecture, and Chunichi Shimbun (Central Japan Newspaper) described “the audience was glued to their perfectly synced performance.”
A devoted music educator, Rie has been teaching Piano to students of all ages and levels for 13 years. Currently, she is a piano instructor at Macalester College and MacPhail Center for Music in Minnesota. Prior to that, she taught applied lessons and group piano classes at the University of Minnesota from 2013 – 2018. She has given masterclasses and lectures at the University of Arizona, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, University of Minnesota – Duluth, and Rebecca Penneys Piano Festival. Her private students have won prizes at regional competitions and festivals, and have been accepted into music programs at Universities in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Rie has been an advocate for musician’s wellness ever since she went through injuries on both of her wrists in 2011. As a certified Yoga instructor through Yoga Alliance with an RYT 200, she has led Yoga classes and lectures at the 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 the states of Minnesota, South Dakota, and Washington.
Rie graduated from 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.