Mai Motobuchi has earned distinction as a soloist , chamber musician and teacher in the United States and her native Japan. As a soloist, she has performed with such well-known artists as Yo-Yo Ma and Seiji Ozawa. Ms. Motobuchi's career in chamber music has taken her around the world performing at the finest concert halls in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. She has toured with the Colorado String Quartet during their 1999-2000 season. Since joining the Borromeo String Quartet in 2000, she has collaborated with the world's finest musicians, including, Leon Fleischer, Gary Graffman, Bernard Greenhouse, Kim Kashkashian, Midori, David Shifrin, Richard Stoltzman, and Dawn Upshaw.

In addition to her active performing career, Ms. Motobuchi is in demand as a teacher on two continents, serving on the Viola and Chamber Music faculty at both the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and at the Tenrikyo Institute of Music in Tenri, Japan. A gifted teacher, she taught viola, violin and chamber music to special talented students in the preparatory division at Rice University, and since 1998 has enjoyed the distinction of having each of her students in Japan named as First Prize recipients in the All Japan MBS Youth Music Competition at every level.

Ms. Motobuchi gained recognition in Japan as first prize winner in the 1989 All Japan MBS Youth Music Competition, and in the 1990 and 1991 All Japan Ensemble Competition. Upon coming to the United States, she won the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition (Junior Division), the Henri Kohn Memorial Award from the Tanglewood Music Center, and, as a student at Rice University, received the John and Sally Cox Award, the E. Dell Butcher Award, and the Willie Muery Award, in addition to being named an Alice Pratt Brown Scholar.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Mai Motobuchi started playing violin at age five. Upon receiving her Diploma from Tenrikyo Institute of Music in Japan, she was awarded full scholarships to study viola at Michigan State University, where she received her Bachelor of Music, and Rice University in Houston, where she earned her Master of Music. She followed with an advanced performance diploma from Internationale Meisterkurze Koblenz in Koblenz, Germany. Ms. Motobuchi's teachers have included Robert Dan, Martha Strongin Katz, Paul Katz, and Yoko Washio Iwatani.


The Borromeo String Quartet

Nicholas Kitchen
, Violin
Kristopher Tong, Violin
Mai Motobuchi, Viola
Yeesun Kim, cello

Ensemble-in-Residence at the New England Conservatory of Music
Ensemble-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Ensemble-in-Residence at the Taos School of Music summer program

Winner of the 2007 Avery Fisher Career Grant
Winner of Lincoln Center's Martin E. Segal Award (2001)
Winner of the Cleveland Quartet Award (1998)
Ensemble-in-Residence for National Public Radio's Performance Today (1998-99)
Top Prize at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France (1990)

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News Quotes

"A remarkably accomplished string quartet, not simply for its high technical polish and refined tone, but
more importantly for the searching musical insights it brings."
The Chicago Tribune

"A musical experience of luminous beauty"
- The San Diego Reader

"Each of the greatest string quartets has redefined what the possibilities of the medium are: through
the perfection of its ensemble and intonation, through its poise and its passion, the Borromeos
are recreating the medium anew and we are lucky to be here to hear it."
- The Boston Globe

"The digital tide washing over society is lapping at the shores of classical music. The Borromeo players
have embraced it in their daily musical lives like no other major chamber music group."
- New York Times

“It would not be an exaggeration for me to say that much of this book has come from trying to
figure out what makes the Borromeo Quartet’s performances so emotionally, intellectually,
and spiritually captivating.”
– from ‘
Music and the Soul' by author Kurt Leland

Each visionary performance of the award-winning Borromeo String Quartet strengthens and deepens its reputation as one of the most important ensembles of our time. Admired and sought after for both its fresh interpretations of the classical music canon and its championing of works by 20th and 21st century composers, the ensemble has been hailed for its"edge-of-the-seat performances," by the Boston Globe, which called it"simply the best there is."

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Borromeo continues to be a pioneer in its use of technology, and has the trailblazing distinction of being the first string quartet to utilize laptop computers on the concert stage. Reading music this way helps push artistic boundaries, allowing the artists to perform solely from 4-part scores and composers’ manuscripts, a revealing and metamorphic experience which these dedicated musicians now teach to students around the world. As the New York Times noted,"The digital tide washing over society is lapping at the shores of classical music. The Borromeo players have embraced it in their daily musical lives like no other major chamber music group." Moreover, the Quartet often leads discussions enhanced by projections of handwritten manuscripts, investigating with the audience the creative process of the composer. And in 2003 the Borromeo became the first classical ensemble to make its own live concert recordings and videos, distributing them for many years to audiences through its Living Archive. The next offering of Living Archive, a music learning web portal, will be released next season. 

Passionate educators, the Borromeos encourage audiences of all ages to explore and listen to both traditional and contemporary repertoire in new ways. The ensemble uses multi-media tools such as video projection to share the often surprising creative process behind some works, or to show graphically the elaborate architecture behind others. This produces delightfully refreshing viewpoints and has been a springboard for its acclaimed young people’s programs. One such program is MATHEMUSICA which delves into the numerical relationships that under-pin the sounds of music and show how musical syntax mirrors natural forms. CLASSIC VIDEO uses one movement of a quartet as the platform from which to teach computer drawing, video editing, animation, musical form and production processes to create a meaningful joining of music and visual art.

The quartet has been ensemble-in-residence at the New England Conservatory and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for twenty-three years; and has worked extensively as performers and educators with the Library of Congress (highlighting both its manuscripts and instrument collections); the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Taos School of Music. The ensemble joined the Emerson Quartet as the 2014-15 Hittman Ensembles in Residence at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, and its upcoming season includes substantial residencies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Kansas University in Lawrence, and the San Francisco Conservatory.

The ensemble has been acclaimed for its presentation of the cycle of Bartok String Quartets as well as its lecture"BARTOK: PATHS NOT TAKEN," both of which give audiences a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear a set of rediscovered alternate movements Béla Bartók drafted for his six Quartets. Describing a Bartok concert at the Curtis Institute, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the quartet"performed at a high standard that brought you so deeply into the music's inner workings that you wondered if your brain could take it all in ... The music's mystery, violence, and sorrow become absolutely inescapable."

Also noteworthy in the BSQ repertory are its dramatic discoveries within the manuscripts of the Beethoven Quartets, and its performances of the COMPLETE CYCLE; the BEETHOVEN DECATHALON (four concerts of Beethoven’s last ten quartets, all with pre-concert lectures exploring his manuscripts); and single BEETHOVEN TRYPTICH concerts (one concert including three quartets). Its expansive repertoire also includes the Shostakovich Cycle and those of Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Brahms, Schumann, Schoenberg, Janacek, Lera Auerbach, Tchaikovsky, and Gunther Schuller.

The Quartet has collaborated with some of this generation’s most important composers, including Gunther Schuller, John Cage, Gyorgy Ligeti, Steve Reich, Osvaldo Golijov, Jennifer Higdon, Steve Mackey, John Harbison, and Leon Kirchner, among many others; and has performed on major concert stages across the globe, including appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie, Wigmore Hall, Suntory Hall, the Concertgebouw, Seoul Arts Center, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, the Incontri in Terra di Siena Chamber Music Festival in Tuscany, the Prague Spring Festival and the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt.

The 2015-16 season includes performances in Switzerland, Japan, Korea and China; the Bartók Cycle in Boston, San Francisco and at the Library of Congress; and appearances at the Schubert Club in Minneapolis, Amherst College, and Trinity Church Wall Street, to name only a few.

"Nothing less than masterful" (, the Borromeo Quartet has received numerous awards throughout its illustrious career, including Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Career Grant and Martin E. Segal Award, and Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award. It was also a recipient of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and top prizes at the International String Quartet Competition in Evian, France.   [September 2015]


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