Husband and wife organ duo Kiyo and Chiemi Watanabe have appeared by invitation at premier events in both the U.S. and abroad, including organ festivals at Spreckels Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park, San Diego, California (1993, 1995, 2000, and 2004), and Iglesia Catedral in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico (1996 and 2000). Recent performances include those to sell-out crowds at Izumi Hall in Osaka, Japan (2010) and concerts on noted historical organs at Eglise Saint-Roch cathedral in Paris, France (2009), and Schleswig Cathedral in Schleswig, Germany (2008).
In 2010, the talented couple was included on a Pipedreams Live event, presented on the Lay Family Concert Organ at Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and aired locally on WRR-FM. Pipedreams Live is produced by Minnesota Public Radio, carried by 136 stations, and heard by nearly 250,000 listeners. In conjunction with the broadcast, Kiyo and Chiemi were featured by KERA-TV in a segment of Art & Seek, a Metroplex community arts show highlighting premier regional performers and events.
In 2012, the pair presented the dedicatory concert at the 4,000-seat Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, on its new 278-rank hybrid organ, one of the largest digital organs in the country.
Respected by his peers and acclaimed by audiences on three continents, Tokyo native Kiyo Watanabe counts among his accomplishments innumerable recitals. At First United Methodist Church, Wichita Falls, Texas, in addition to fulfilling his duties as organist and serving as artistic director of the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Organ Concert Series, Kiyo directs both adult and youth handbell choirs. For these groups, he composes most music performed, which allows him to address both individual abilities and performance requirements.
Kiyo notes, "My philosophy of composing music for other group or musicians is like cooking for other people. Buying easy music from a catalog is like getting pre-cooked food, such as fast food or frozen food. When I write music myself, it becomes like home-made cooking."
Also a respected composer of music for organ, flute and piano, and choir, Kiyo has recently added TRUMPH Music Publishing House in Sweden to the list of established publishers carrying his music. Other publishers carrying his works include Alfred, GIA, Harold Flammer, Hope, and Abingdon Press.
Kiyo holds a bachelor's degree in organ performance from Baylor University and a master's degree in organ performance and a doctor of musical arts degree from Manhattan School of Music.
A native of Aichi, Japan, Chiemi Yamada Watanabe has presented concerts throughout Japan and in Mexico, and has appeared in solo performances on many of New York's most historic organs, including those at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.
Chiemi has served as organist and music director at Floral Heights United Methodist Church in Wichita Falls since 1997. There, she directs the adult handbell choir and accompanies most of the voice choirs. Since 1998, she has presented an organ concert each Palm Sunday.
Chiemi has studied with some of America's leading organ teachers, including John Weaver at The Juilliard School and McNeil Robinson at Manhattan School of Music, with additional study under Joyce Jones at Baylor University. Chiemi earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Kwansei Gakuin University in Hyogo, Japan, and a master of music degree in organ from the Manhattan School of Music.
When not following musical pursuits, Chiemi enjoys photography and is a faithful practitioner of yoga.
[written by Pati Haworth]