Born in Tokyo, Junichi Hirokami studied conducting, piano, musicology and viola at the prestigious Tokyo College of Music. He began his conducting career at the age of 26 after winning the first Kondrashin International Conducting Competition in Amsterdam. On the jury was the distinguished pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy who subsequently invited Hirokami to conduct the NHK Symphony Orchestra on a tour of Japan in 1985. The success of that tour was followed by another collaboration with Ashkenazy the following year with the Orchestre National de France.
Since 1990, Junichi Hirokami has appeared as guest conductor with major orchestras throughout the world including the Orchestre National de France, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Oslo and Stockholm Philharmonics, Verdi Orchestra Milan, Wiener Symphoniker, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra.
Between 1988 and 1995, Hirokami was Chief Conductor of Sweden’s Norrköping Symphony Orchestra where, during his tenure, he recorded for the BIS (Sweden) and Fun House (Japan) labels, toured with the orchestra to Japan and oversaw the building of a state-of-the-art concert hall.
Since 1992 he has been a regular visitor to London where he has worked with all five of the capital’s symphony orchestras, and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra he has made highly praised recordings of Mahler Symphony No. 4 and Berlioz Symphonie fantastique for the Denon label.
Hirokami launched his North American career in 1996 with the Toronto Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Dallas Symphony. Other engagements have included Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Seattle, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Calgary and Charlotte. From 2006 – 2008 he served as Music Director of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
In 1989 he made his operatic debut in a new production of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera with the Australian Opera and was immediately reinvited to conduct Rigoletto in 1990 and La forza del destino in 1992. In 2011 he made his debut at the New National Theatre in Tokyo conducting La traviata.
From 1998 to 2000, Hirokami served as Chief Conductor of the Limburg Symphony Orchestra in Holland. He was the first Japanese conductor to direct the Israel Philharmonic, and he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic from 1997 to 2000, where he was particularly noted for his conducting of such great choral masterpieces as Beethoven Symphony No.9, Brahms A German Requiem, Mozart Requiem and Haydn The Creation.
In Japan he has conducted all the major orchestras including, at the invitation of Seiji Ozawa, the Saito Kinen Orchestra and the Mito Chamber Orchestra. In April 2008 he was appointed Chief Conductor of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra - in 2010 their first CD together was released and his appointment was recently renewed through 2014.