Migiwa Miyajima
Pianist / Composer & Arranger / Producer

Migiwa’s career path began in Tokyo on a very different trajectory—she worked as a director of real estate ads, an IT engineer, and then an editor-in-chief of a travel magazine. But in 2004, at the age of 30, she decided to follow her true passion: She became a musician.  Five years later, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, a New York–based ensemble with more than a half-century-long history, recognized Migiwa’s talent and invited her to produce their Japan tour, which she has done every year from 2009 to 2016. She was associate producer for two Grammy Award nominated albums by the orchestra in 2011 and 2014. 

In 2012, having received a Japanese government scholarship and a Japan-US Friendship Commission Fellowship, Migiwa made her move to New York. There, she leads her own large ensemble, the Miggy Augmented Orchestra. July 2017 marked her orchestra’s first appearance at one of New York’s most legendary jazz clubs, Birdland. She was the first female Japanese big band leader to perform there since the legendary Toshiko Akiyoshi in 2003. 

In 2018, NEA Jazz Master, trombonist and composer, Slide Hampton selected her to be associate producer and conductor of his big band. She also composes for various other artists and media outlets, such as world-renowned saxophonist Steve Wilson, The Birdland Big Band, as well as nation-wide Japanese radio station - Nippon Hoso Broadcast. Migiwa’s music reflects the complexities and hues of her own journey. Her passion to “make the world a better place through music” instantly touches the heart of the listener.  

Migiwa was a finalist for the 2015 BMI Charlie Parker Award, as well as the 2017 International Song Writing Contest - Instrumental category. She also received a grant from the Brooklyn Arts Council, as co-founder and composer of NYJWJC (New York Japanese Women Jazz Composers).   

Her orchestra’s debut album Colorful will be released by ArtistShare in 2018.

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Awards and grants

2019        Jerome Foundation’s Jerome Hill Artist 
2018        The International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM) 2018 Search for New Music Competition PDX Prize - Winner 
2018        International Song Writing Contest - Instrumental category - Finalist 
2016        Received grant from Brooklyn Arts Council (as co-founder and composer, NYJWJC(New York Japanese Women Jazz Composers) 
2015        Seattle Woman Jazz Orchestra composition contest honorable mention 
2015        BMI Charlie Parker Award finalist 
2012-13    Japanese Government Overseas Program for Artists 
2012-13    Japan-US Friendship Commission