title_biography.jpg_DSC1237-003.jpgPhoto : Kenshu Shintsubo 

Ryoko Aoki

Ryoko Aoki holds a unique position in the field of Noh theatre as a female singer and performer. She has performed in several traditional Noh plays, historically the reserve of male actors. Above all, she is the pioneer of and inspiration for a new artistic form combining Noh with contemporary music. More than 50 works have been written for her by various composers including Peter Eötvös, Toshio Hosokawa, Stefano Gervasoni and José María Sánchez-Verdú.

The singer and performer has made appearances in Tokyo, Kyoto, Long Beach, Paris, Rome, London, Dublin, Bilbao, Budapest, Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Karlsruhe among others, and at festivals including the Asia-Pacific Weeks Berlin, Bartok Festival Szombathely, Xenakis Festival in New York and the Takefu International Music Festival. She has performed with ensembles and orchestras including the Arditti Quartet, the Quatour Diotima and the Münchener Kammerorchester.  

In 2013, Ryoko Aoki gave her debut at the Teatro Real de Madrid in Wolfgang Rihm's opera The Conquest of Mexico in the role of Malinche, in a production directed by Pierre Audi. In 2016 she premiered Noriko Baba's "Nopera" AOI with the Ensemble 2e2m in Paris. During the 2017/18 season Ryoko Aoki performed the world premieres of two works composed for her: Toshio Hosokawa's Futari Shizuka (The Maiden from the Sea) with the Ensemble intercontemporain at the Philharmonie de Paris and Kölner Philharmonie as well as Federico Gardella's Two Souls at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. She also gave her debut at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in a concert conducted by Matthias Pintscher.

Highlights of Ryoko Aoki's 2018/19 season include performances of Toshio Hosokawa's Futari Shizuka at the University of Toronto in January and during the TIMF Festival in Tongyeong/Korea in March as well as the world premiere of Peter Eötvös' Secret kiss with the Gageego Ensemble at the Konserthus Gothenburg in January, followed by performances at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan, at Casa da Musica Porto with Remix Ensemble, in Madrid with Plural Ensemble and in Berlin, Cologne and Budapest with Ensemble Musikfabrik (September).  

As part of her Noh x Contemporary Music project, Ryoko Aoki has commissioned a series of new works for Noh singer. In 2014, she released a Noh x Contemporary Music recording, including Peter Eötvös' Harakiri. As a workshop leader, she has worked with the dance company Sasha Waltz and Guests. 

Ryoko Aoki obtained a BA and a Master of Music from the Faculty of Music at the Tokyo National University of Fine Art and Music with a focus on the Kanze school of Noh theatre, before obtaining a PhD at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, with a thesis on "Women and Noh". She was appointed "Japan Cultural Envoy" by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japanese government in 2015 and was a featured artist at the Aichi Triennale in 2016. 

2018/2019 season 

This biography is to be reproduced without any changes, omissions or additions, unless expressly authorised by the artist management. 
karsten witt musik management


Karsten Witt (Outside Japan)

Masako Okamura (Japan)

edited by Takashi Yokoisi   Hayakawa-shobo 1,500 Yen

edited by Nitobe Leadership Program, International House of Japan  
I-House Press       e-published from Kindle 540 yen (inclusive of tax)

magazine / newspaper 
Discover Japan "Travel to Nikko with Tobu Railway" 2019/7 
ONGAKU NO TOMO The report, Toshio Hosokawa "Futari Shizuka - The Maiden from the Sea" (Asia Premiere) Tongyeong International Music Festival 2019/6 
Fashion Snap 2015/5/17Shiseido "Hanatsubaki" Woman 2013/10
The Asahi Newspaper 2010/11/28
The New York Times 2010/2/28
ITOKI Spina Kengo Kuma × Ryoko Aoki 

NHK TV "NHK Haiku"  


performance archive



"How Did the Tokyo Music School Influence the Birth of Female Noh Performers?
―By the Instrumentality of Ikenouchi Nobuyoshi and Kanze Sakon―"
Journal of Atomi University Faculty of Literature No.48 pp.59-74.

"Women Noh Performers"
Journal of the Society for the Study of Musical Drama No.10 pp.1-18.


"Analysis of Noh and composition of Noh-Opera using a sinusoidal model"
by Ken Ito (Keio University)
Ken-Ichi Sakakibara (NTT Communication Science Laboratories)
Ryoko Aoki (Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music)
Naotosi Osaka (NTT Communication Science Laboratories)
published in "Information Processing Society of Japan" journal. 

presentations / demonstrations  

Daniel Recital Hall, California State University, Long Beach, CA, US

"TIME WALKER" Panel discussion:Chihiro Minato × Gozo Yoshimasu × Ryoko Aoki 
Tokyo International Forum 


Hochschule for music and theatre Hannover, Germany

20th Annual Conference of the Society for the Study of Musical Drama 
National Noh Theatre 
Presentation "The Construction of Japanese Noh Theatre as an Abstract Art"

"Women and Japanese Noh Theatre" 
International Research Center
"Interweaving Cultures in Performance" 
Berlin Freie University, Germany

Panel: "Women in Noh"

"The Construction of Japanese Noh Theatre as a Masculine Art : an Analysis of its Traditional and Modern Discourses" 


Presentation at the 13th international conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies in Estonia
"The Construction of Japanese Noh Theatre as an Abstract Art : an Analysis of its Traditional and Modern Discourses" 


Une matinée autour du Nô in Villa Medici, Rome
Presentation : Noh music
Demonstration of Noh "Matsukaze"

Conference guilt Ⅱ at the University of Bonn
Presentation : Guilt in Japanese Noh Theatre
Demonstration of Noh "Yashima"
Toshio Hosokawa "From Japanese Folk Song"

Portrait Concert of Toshio Hosokawa at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 

Demonstration of Noh "Matsukaze"
Toshio Hosokawa "From Japanese Folk Song"

Presentation at Noh Institute regular meeting at the Tokyo University
"Considering Women Noh Performers Now"

Demonstration of Noh play "Makiginu" at the Japan Univeristy Art Faculty
ORCNANA & APPAN International Conference

Presentation at the Society for the Study of Musical Drama
"The Possibility of Women`s Noh Performance from a Historical Perspective"

The British Council Japan Association
Nomura Foundation
Rohm Music Foundation



Takefu International Music Festival
Noh workshop for composers

Intermediate presentations of composers' workshops for "ONGAKU×ONGYOKU"

Since 4.2007, there had been a series of 10 Noh workshops for the composers towards the upcoming performance in September. For this time, presentations of the intermediate process result were supervised by Joji Yuasa.

Noh workshop at the Hull Univeristy, U.K.

Noh workshop at the Inha Univeristy and Kyonhi University, Korea

Noh workshop at the SOAS, University of London, U.K.

Noh workshop at the SOAS, University of London, U.K.