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Pianist Enjoys Popularity After Years of Obscurity
November 17, 2000
Five years ago, Hemming returned to Japan. A television program in 1999 about her life sparked a surge in her popularity in the country. In the summer of 1999, a CD of her recordings, Kiseki no kanpanera (La Campanella), was released, with sales eventually topping the 400,000 mark. This was a stunning success in the world of classical recordings, where a work that sells more than 10,000 copies is considered a hit. Tickets to her concerts have been known to sell out the day they go on sale. Hemming's popularity in Japan has become firmly established.
Destined for Greatness
Hemming graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and went on to study in Berlin. By all accounts she seemed destined for a career as a top-class concert pianist. In Berlin her talent won high acclaim, but, due to the cold war, her status as a stateless person prevented her from traveling to eastern Europe and entering the famous competitions for young pianists held there, such as the International Piano Competition. As a result, her sphere of activity was limited.
Hemming finally got a chance to perform some recitals with the support of conductor Leonard Bernstein. As fate would have it, however, she fell ill just before the recitals and suffered nearly a complete loss of hearing in her right ear. The concerts were canceled after just one performance. By the age of 40, Hemming had just 70% hearing in her left ear. Though she is unable to carry on a conversation without the use of a hearing aid, she says that she can clearly hear the sound of the piano as reverberations through her whole body.
The Power of Persuasion
Hemming lives in Tokyo. Her age remains a secret. An animal lover, she has nine cats. She practices the piano four hours a day without fail. Her life has been filled with ups and downs, yet she has remained true to herself. Fascinated by her, a Japanese film director asked her to appear in one of his productions, and the resulting movie came out this year. In June 2001 Hemming is scheduled to give a concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. Her career, which is only now unfolding, shows every sign that it will continue to flourish.
Copyright (c) 2000 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.