Born in Tokyo, Akemi Naito began studying piano at the age of five and composition at the age of fourteen. In 1978, she received B.A. in Music Composition from the University Division at the Toho Gakuen School of Music and graduate degree from the same university in 1980, and was a member of the school’s faculty from 1980 until 1991. She was awarded the Takei Prize in 1982 and a finalist of the Music Today Composition Award in 1982 and 1988. Following her earlier activity as a composer in Tokyo, she received a grant from the Asian Cultural Council, that enabled her to come to New York City in 1991. She has since established herself as a New York-based composer.
Ms. Naito’s works have been featured in music festivals around the world such as Clásicos en Verano in Madrid, Fribourg International Festival of Sacred Music, Music Festival Valendas in Switzerland, Mersin International Music Festival in Turkey, International Bayan Festival in Moscow, International Congress of Percussion in Poland, a number of times at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), Gaudeamus Music Festival, Melbourne Festival, Musica Scienza Roma, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, Japan Society Spring Festival, Music from Japan Festival, Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva in Mexico and Music Today International Festival in Tokyo. Her Marimba piece, Memory of the Woods, which was written for William Moersch in 2000 has received numerous performances both in the U.S. and internationally and it has been one of the selected compositions in the repertoire of the Japan Wind and Percussion Competition.
Naito is a recipient of awards and grants from organizations including Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center, Aaron Copland Fund for Music for Recording for her CD album in conjunction with Cygnus Ensemble, the Bellagio residency from the Rockefeller Foundation, Chamber Music America, the New York Foundation for the Arts, ASCAP Standard Award, Meet the Composer Fund, the first Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House residence, and resident fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony and Millay Colony for the Arts.
Her CD album, Mindscape has been released by Bridge Records in 2006 and Strings & Time was released by CRI in 1997. In addition, her compositions can be heard on EMI, ALM, URTEXT and New Focus Recordings. In October 2016, her work, Sanctuary – Transcription for Marimba Duo, was released by ALM as one of the works included in the CD of Utari, which is the percussion duo of Haruka and Rika Fujii. In addition, Across the Universe, which she composed for a commission by pianist Aki Takahashi’s Hyper Beatles Album series by EMI in 1991, will be included in a new recording of 16 selected works of Ms. Takahashi’s same title CD. The CD will be released from Camerata Tokyo in 2017.
In February 2012, Naito appeared on WJFF Monday Afternoon Classics, a two-hour radio program, which focused on her music by interview and aired six works from her CDs.
In November 2013, she served as a jury member at the 12th Composition Competition of the Fribourg International Festival of Sacred Music, Switzerland.
Her works have been published by HoneyRock, AUGEMUS and SONIC ARTS.