In the years since Vladimir Ashkenazy first came to prominence on the world stage in the 1955 Chopin Competition in Warsaw he has built an extraordinary career, not only as one of the most renowned and revered pianists of our times, but as an artist whose creative life encompasses a vast range of activities and continues to offer inspiration to music-lovers across the world. Conducting has formed the largest part of his activities for the past 20 years and, following on from his period as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic from 1998 to 2003, Ashkenazy took up the position of Music Director of NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo in September 2004. In Autumn 2005 he completed his second highly successful European tour with them, including a televised concert at the Vienna Musikverein which marked the orchestra's debut in this prestigious venue. Their regular work in Tokyo has included several television broadcasts and special programmes, such as a commemoration in Spring 2006 of Toru Takemitsu, a composer whom Ashkenazy greatly admires – and in homage to whom he directed ‘Riverrun' from the keyboard in this concert. After a short visit to Seoul in June 2006 they undertook a major tour of the United States including Disney Hall in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston and Carnegie Hall in New York.