Hirono Borter is a Japanese composer and violinist, based in the United States. She formed Duo-B, a violin/cello ensemble dedicated to promoting and expanding the string duo repertory, and later Duo-B Press, which offers her original arrangements and music to the global music community.
Hirono's music has been studied around the world, leading to inclusion in educational settings and professional performances at concerts in Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Mexico, Switzerland, the United States. She recently received a commission from the Red Cedar Valley chamber music ensemble for "Train", her most recent work based on the Brazilian popular choro genre, and is actively seeking new outlets for commissions and performances. Domestically, her original music has been featured at the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival, the Romanza Festival, and the Victoria Bach Festival, with appearances at institutions of higher learning such as Baylor University, Luther College, the University of Southern Mississippi, SUNY Potsdam.
As a young student, an early engagement with Ensemble Modern featuring the works of Steve Reich in Tokyo, Japan proved to be a transformative experience, with long-lasting effects on her musical career. Hirono frequently composes and arranges music influenced from a variety of eras and genres most recent project included the release of 12 new arrangements featuring composers of Argentine Tangos and Brazilian Choros. This creative activity led to concert tours in Italy, Japan, the Midwest, and the Southeastern United States. Hirono is currently engaged composing a series of works, titled Reimagining Bach, taking movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo music and “recomposing” them through the application of modern idioms and popular alternative styles.
She attended the Hochschule für Musik - Freiburg and later gradated with a music diploma from the Universität der Künste Berlin. Additional music studies were undertaken at the Eastman School of Music, where she received her Master of Music degree.
violin + cello
Unique in the classical music world due to its dedication to works for violin and cello ensemble, Duo-B is quickly earning praise for their passionate musical commitment, creative style, and original programming. The ensemble began in 2009 with the chance meeting of a Japanese violinist (Hirono Sugimoto) and an American cellist (Philip Borter) in Germany, at the Hochschule für Musik-Freiburg. Their fascination with travel, innovative styles of music-making, and each other soon led them down creative and unexpected paths that later resulted in the forming of Duo-B, while still graduate students at the Eastman School of Music. Early on, a diversion from their classical training has led them to explore music from a variety of genres and cultures, including folk traditions of Europe, Japan, and South America, through which they emphasize the communicative power and remarkable intimacy found in the string duo.
As an alternative classical ensemble, the couple views their artistic role as being much more than “interpreters” of a venerable long standing repertory, but are deeply invested in curating and creating music which enhances, diversifies, and re-invigorates the modern concert experience. To that end Hirono, also a composer, writes original compositions for the ensemble and they work together to create new arrangements of music from a variety of eras and genres. One of the ensemble’s most recent projects included the release of an album of original arrangements of tangos by Astor Piazzolla, which eventually led to concert tours in Italy, Japan, the Midwest, and the Southeastern United States. Hirono is currently engaged composing a series of works, titled Reimagining Bach, taking movements from Johann Sebastian Bach’s solo music and “recomposing” them through the application of modern idioms and popular alternative styles. In 2020, they hosted a Call for Scores, sponsored by the Iowa Composer’s Forum which culminated in result in the premiering and recording of a number of new works for violin and cello duo.
In addition to performing and composing, the pair are active educators who have presented showcases and clinics at numerous institutions across the United States including: Ave Maria University, Luther College, the University of Iowa, and Virginia Commonwealth University. They served as string faculty at the Dorian Summer Music Camp and maintain active private studios for string instruction. In an effort to encourage the wider dissemination and performance of music written for string duo, they founded Duo-B Press through which they offer their original arrangements and compositions, as well as revitalized older works which are not easily available.
As winners of numerous awards, they have performed across three continents including landmark performances in Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theater, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Universität der Künste in Berlin, and Minatomirai Hall in Yokohama, Japan. Most recently they were welcomed as featured guest artists at the 2019 Experiencing Villa-Lobos: International Festival, the Cedar Valley Chamber Music Festival, the Romanza Festivale in St. Augustine, FL and the 2017 Iowa Composer's Forum Music in the Shape of a Pear festival.
They reside in Waco, Texas, where they maintain private studios for string instruction. While dedicating their performance lives to the string duo, Philip & Hirono cherish being full-time parents and sharing as many musical adventures as possible with five children: Jude, Joseph, Matthew, Miriam, & Marie