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Throughout her long career, Japanese percussionist and composer Keiko Abe has been a leader among advocates of the marimba as a concert instrument. First achieving attention after winning an NHK talent competition at age 14, she went on to develop a serious repertoire of concert works for marimba through commissions, performances, compositions, and collaboration with the Yamaha company to advance the instrument itself. In this video, performer and scholar Rebecca Kite discusses Abe’s remarkable contributions to the development of the marimba as a concert instrument.

Produced by Pamela Ferrali, with assistance from Michael Cappabianca

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Cypess

Video editor: Elly Toyoda

Photos and Audio courtesy of Rebecca Kite


For more information on the fascinating life of Abe, check out Rebecca Kite’s book, Keiko Abe: A Virtuosic Life, available below:

Keiko Abe’s Percussive Arts Society Bio:

Keiko Abe Official Website:

For more information on Rebecca Kite’s work as a percussionist, researcher, and writer, visit her website below:



  • 1937: Keiko Abe is born.
  • 1951: Keiko Abe wins NHK talent competition, begins performing regularly for the station.
  • 1956: Keiko Abe begins studying music education at Tokyo Gakugei University.
  • 1961-1966: Keiko Abe forms and performs with the Xebec Trio, performing and recording popular music.
  • October 4, 1968: Keiko Abe’s groundbreaking recital, “Keiko Abe: An Evening of Marimba.”
  • 1977: Abe’s first American tour; performs at PASIC in Knoxville, TN. 
  • 1981: Keiko Abe performs at PASIC in Indianapolis, meets percussionist Rebecca Kite.
  • 1984: Abe performs at PASIC with the new five-octave YM-6000 marimba.
  • 1993: Keiko Abe inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame