Meet Kayoko


“One definition of a term “conductor” is something that transmits energy. I love this definition. I believe as a conductor of an orchestra, I am transmitting the energy from the music, its composer, and my interpretation to the audience through the musicians.” ~ Kayoko

People often ask me why I became a conductor. It was actually a natural progression through a process of finding my right “voice” and my identity.

Music has been part of my life since I was three years old, begging my parents to enroll me in a piano class.  Music became more vital as my family moved to US. Not being able to speak English, music, whether playing the piano or singing in a school chorus, became my main “voice.”

Through middle and high school, flute became my new “voice.” With my flute, I experienced the joy of making music with friends. I realized that you can make friends just by playing music together. I developed the necessary skills to become an ensemble player. I played under inspiring conductors. The idea and desire to become a conductor sparked inside of me.

In college, I discovered my new “voice,” conducting. Conducting is a never-ending endeavor, and I was hooked. There are countless scores to discover and learn. There are numerous ways to perform one work. It was refreshing, challenging, evolving, and extremely rewarding. I thrived. I finally found my true identity. I am a conductor.


“As a leader, I often compare myself to my Border Collie mix Maggie Moo. I like to be a leader who can create a safe and inspiring environment for the musicians to thrive.” ~ Kayoko

As a conductor, I lead the orchestra through variety of inspiring performances of creative and thoughtful programs. As a conductor, I am an advocate of live music, musicians, living composers and music education. Moreover, as a Music Director of an organization, I am trusted with many more roles and responsibilities.

In 2011, I was appointed as the 8th Music Director of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera. As the Music Director, I have an amazing opportunity to serve the community as an ambassador of music and music education.

As a leader of the arts community in Chattanooga, I have established and continue to maintain partnerships with our community’s arts institutions such as ArtsBuild, Chattanooga Ballet, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Hunter Museum of American Art and Children’s Discovery Museum to name a few.

I absolutely love sharing my passion for symphonic music with thousands of people by providing free concerts to the public: Pops on the River to celebrate the Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, and Community Play Along at the Chattanooga Market. I enjoy watching sparkles in the children’s eyes and seeing the audience sing-along!

Besides conducting, I often get invited to speak for organizations including the Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and many leadership organizations to share my experience. As the first female conductor to serve as the Music Director in Chattanooga, I have shared my experience with many girls’ and women’s leadership organizations.


“As a conductor of an educational institution, I believe it is vital to provide the students fulfilling experiences with meaningful programming. The students need to be exposed to variety of music that are challenging yet attainable. By exploring music through thoughtful programming, the students can grow during the rehearsal and performance process, and have a sense of accomplishment.” ~ Kayoko

I always thought I would become a teacher, because I had great music teachers and mentors throughout my education. In fact, I hold two Music Education degrees: Bachelor in Music Education at the University of Texas and Master in Music Education from Arizona State University. I taught at elementary schools, have been an ArtsBridge Scholar to teach at a homeless school, and served as the Graduate Teaching Assistant during my graduate studies. I conducted youth orchestras in Phoenix, AZ and Lexington, KY.

Life took a different course than I ever imagined, but I am still able to fulfill my desire to share my experience with the younger generation.

I conduct innovative and fun programs at the Young People’s Concerts for over 4000 students annually. I share my passion and experience as a guest clinician and a lecturer at colleges, youth orchestras, high school and regional orchestras throughout the country.


“Music nourishes my soul, and yoga helps connect and maintain the balance of my soul, mind and body.” ~ Kayoko

Since 2001, Yoga has helped me maintain physical and mental balance. Over the years, I suffered from performance injury and have witnessed many of my fellow musicians get injured from repeated use of particular muscles. In 2012, I became a certified Hatha Yoga Instructor to explore how yoga can help musicians.


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