Obayashi PrizeRecipient of the Thirteenth Obayashi Prize

The 13th Obayashi Prize has been jointly awarded to Ms.Martha Argerich, Ms.Kyoko Ito, and the Argerich Arts Foundation for their contributions to society and community advancement through the Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu.

Martha ARGERICH Piano
President , Argerich Arts Foundation
General Director , Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu


©Rikimaru Hotta

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She began piano lessons at the age of five, studying with Vincenzo Scaramuzza, and displayed her genius.
In 1957, Argerich won the Busoni and Geneva International Competitions, and then she began to give concerts actively. In 1965, she won First Prize at the Chopin Competition, which established her indisputable prestige as a pianist in the world. Since then, Argerich has been one of the most prominent pianists in the world in both popularity and ability.
Since 1994, she has served as Honorary Music Director of the Philharmonia Hall at Beppu B-Con Plaza in Japan. In 1995, Argerich gave her first solo recital in ten years, which music fans around the world had waited for, at the "Beppu Argerich Concert '95".
Since 1996 Argerich has assumed the post of General Director of Beppu Argerich Music Festival, and played with artists from around the world, including those from Asia. She is also much interested in giving advice to young musicians and held her own Master Class at the Music Festival. Her innovative approach to music making continues to have an impact on music in Japan and the world.

Kyoko ITO Piano
Vice Chairperson , Argerich Arts Foundation
General Producer , Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu

Kyoko ITO

©Rikimaru Hotta

Kyoko Ito was born in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. She graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts and Frankfurt University of Music. She won third prize at the 43rd Music Competition of Japan.
During her ten-year stay in Europe, Ito won third prize at the Busoni International Competition in 1977, and performed with a number of leading orchestras in Europe, North America, Japan and elsewhere, including the NHK Symphony Orchestra and The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli.
In 1994, Ito planned a chamber music festival with Martha Argerich, a longtime friend of hers. The concerts were well received in Tokyo and other cities in Japan. With this achievement, Ito was asked by the City of Beppu to serve as a producer for the cultural development of the city, and since then she has been promoting the creation of a new music culture in close cooperation with Argerich. In September 2000, she established a fund called “Otamajakushi-kikin” (tadpole fund) to support the spiritual development of children, which led to the Pinocchio Concerts that continue to the present day.

The Argerich Arts Foundation

The Argerich Arts Foundation

The Argerich Arts Foundation was established in March 2007 looking 100 years ahead considering artistic activities as an infrastructure of human education.
Under the thought of Martha Argerich, the Foundation promotes MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point, Pinocchio Concerts, hospital concerts, salon culture and other social contribution activities.

Reasons for Award

The Music Festival Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu has been running for a quarter of a century, with the cooperation of world-renowned Argentinian pianist Ms.Martha Argerich as General Director and fellow pianist Ms.Kyoko Ito as General Producer. Many world-class artists have been invited to Beppu (Oita Prefecture) as part of the Festival, enabling interaction with young musicians and local performers. The Festival has made classical music accessible to all, and contributed to the community and wider society through music.
Moreover, as part of its mission of building an enriched society that nurtures the human spirit in cooperation with local residents, the Argerich Arts Foundation has shared responsibility for implementing the following activities with local government authorities.
・Contributing to society and community advancement through the arts
・Supporting the reinvigoration of the City of Beppu
・Sharing Beppu’s culture with the world
The joint award is made in recognition of the three awardees’ collective achievements in this regard, which constitute a groundbreaking new benchmark for envisioning and ideating the cities of the future.