Chicago Symphony salutes a pianist

Chicago Symphony salutes a pianist


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2021

From the CSO:

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra family mourns the loss of pianist Gail Niwa, who passed away on February 9, 2021, at home in New York City, following a long illness. She was sixty-one.

Born in Chicago in 1959, Gail was the daughter of two professional musicians. Her mother (and first teacher) Eloise was an accomplished pianist and pedagogue, and her father Raymond was a member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s violin section from 1951 until 1997. David Niwa, Gail’s brother, also is a skilled violinist with degrees from the Curtis Institute and the Juilliard School, and he currently serves as asistant concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Together, the Niwa family claims a singular distinction: all four have been soloists with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

More here.



  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Gail was one of the most respected musicians, and for those who knew her, knew her humility, kindness and impeccable playing. She was a friend at Juilliard, and one of Adele Marcus’s most esteemed pupils. She is forever remembered, but her legacy as a person and musician lives within each and every person whose lives she touched.

  • David Niwa says:

    We miss my sister and we’re glad that she got to share her gifts with so many others, in such a short time.

    Thank you Mr. Lebrecht for picking up and posting this.

  • We are deeply saddened. Gail Niwa was so loved in Utah where she dazzled audiences when she won the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. Gail performed many years at the Beethoven Festival Park City (formerly the Park City International Music Festival) where she performed chamber music together with so many of us, as well as performing as soloist several times with the Festival orchestra. She made many friends in Utah and loved to play tennis during her summers here, something that never interfered with her wonderful performing. Her illness was a tragedy but her life’s work as a great pianist has left us with many treasured performances, and she will never be forgotten.