"a complete artist and a major one at that, who is unafraid to experiment and weave many musical worlds into one.”
All About Jazz
A Tokyo native, Meg Okura is a Grammy-nominated violinist and award-winning composer based in the Bronx, New York. As a teen, Ms. Okura toured Asia as the soloist and concertmaster of the Asian Youth Orchestra. At 19, she made her U.S. solo debut at Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She earned B.M. and MM degrees from the Juilliard School as a violin performance major, only to make a difficult switch to jazz upon graduation. She has toured internationally as a violinist, appearing at Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Barbican Hall in the U.K., Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl, and numerous jazz and Jewish music festivals worldwide with many jazz greats such as Lee Konitz, Michael Brecker, Tom Harrel, Steve Swallow, Sam Newsome, Diane Reeves, Vince Giordano, Jeremy Pelt, as well as David Bowie, Pharaoh's Daughter, Cirque du Soleil, Emilio Solla, and many others. In 2018, she placed No. 6 Jazz Violinist in the International Critics Polls.
Dubbed "the queen of chamber jazz" by All About Jazz, Ms. Okura leads her Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble, appearing in its hometown of New York at Birdland Jazz Club, Blue Note, Knitting Factory, Dizzy's Club Coca Cola at Jazz At Lincoln Center, Winter JazzFest, as well as Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., K.L. Jazz Festival in Malaysia, and sold-out concerts in Japan.
Ms. Okura has released nine albums under her name and two more in the works this year. Her violinist, erhu player, or composer credits appear in over 100 albums, films, and live-performance videos. Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble have released four critically acclaimed albums: a self-titled debut album (2006), Naima (2010,) Music of Ryuichi Sakamoto (2013), and Ima Ima (2018), chosen the "Best Releases of 2018" by Dan Bilawsky on All About Jazz as well as the New York Times Editor's Pick, describing her music as "grandiloquent beauty that transitions easily from grooves to big cascades to buoyant swing." Her release of 2018 NPO Trio Live at The Stone was Bandcamp's Best of March 2018.
She is the 2023 winner of the ISJAC (International Society of Jazz Arranger and Composers) Fundamental Freedom Commission Awards, 2022 BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) Awards, 2021 NYC Women's Fund for Media, Music & Theater, 2021 Jazz Road Creative Residencies, 2020 Copland House Residency Awards, 2018 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works grant, and many other grants and awards.
Ms. Okura's new commissioned work will be premiered by the Orchestre National de Jazz de Montréal at the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers Symposium in Montreal, Canada in May of 2024.