Rae Imamura passed away on Saturday, Nov. 22 at her Berkeley home. Daughter of Rev. Kanmo and Jane Imamura, Rae is survived by her mother, her siblings, Hiro, Ryo and Mari, and her dog Brandy. Rae graduated from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive her M.F.A. in piano at Mills College, where she found her voice in contemporary music.
In 1975, she co-founded a new music ensemble whose repertoire included such composers as John Cage, Robert Ashley, Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, John Adams and Paul Dresher. She later joined the Arch Ensemble for Experimental Music, and partnered in a two-piano team with Michael Orland.
Touring the East Coast, Europe and Asia numerous times. she premiered/commissioned works of many composers including Lou Harrison, Paul Drescher, George Lewis, and Mamoru Fujieda. Her favorite projects over the last years involved her collaboration with pianist Aki Takahashi—including in late 2006 new works by Andrew Imbrie and Hi-Kyung Kim. A CD of their performance has just been released.
Rae taught at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond and was the center’s assistant director at its founding in the early ’70s. She would often tell people that she found her most rewarding moments working with the young students at the center.
She also worked with the Oakland-East Bay Symphony’s MUSE program, the Berkeley Symphony, the Oakland Ballet Orchestra, the Santa Cruz Symphony and the Santa Rosa Symphony. She was the accompanist for the choir at St. Theresa’s for many years and continued on with the Rockridge Chorale.
A memorial for Rae will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, 2121 Channing Way.