Masaaki Suzuki

Masaaki Suzuki[conductor, organ, cembalo]

Since founding Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on the works of Bach. He has remained their Music Director ever since, taking them regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the USA and building up an outstanding reputation for the expressive refinement and truth of his performances.

In addition to working with renowned period ensembles, such as Collegium Vocale Gent and Philharmonia Baroque, he is invited to conduct modern instrument orchestras in repertoire as diverse as Britten, Fauré, Haydn, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Stravinsky. Last season saw his debut appearances with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Melbourne Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, while engagements for 2012/2013 include return visits to the Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris and Verbier Festival and his debuts with the New York Philharmonic and the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart.

Suzuki’s impressive discography on the BIS label, featuring Bach’s complete works for harpsichord and his interpretations of Bach’s major choral works and sacred cantatas with Bach Collegium Japan (of which he has already completed over fifty volumes of a project to record the complete series) have brought him many critical plaudits – the Times has written: “it would take an iron bar not to be moved by his crispness, sobriety and spiritual vigour”. In 2010, Suzuki and his ensemble were awarded both a German Record Critics’ Award (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik) and a Diapason d’Or de l’Année for their recording of Bach motets, which was also honoured in 2011 with a BBC Music Magazine Award.

Highlights of last season with Bach Collegium Japan included a European tour incorporating concerts at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Brussels Palais des Beaux-Arts and Paris Salle Pleyel amongst others, and culminating with a performance of the St Matthew Passion at the Thomaskirche, Leipzig where Suzuki was presented with the 2012 Leipzig Bach Prize. This season sees the group in residence at the Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht and Bremen Musikfest.

Masaaki Suzuki combines his conducting career with his work as organist and harpsichordist. Born in Kobe, he graduated from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music with a degree in composition and organ performance and went on to study harpsichord and organ at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam under Ton Koopman and Piet Kee. Founder and head of the early music department at the Tokyo University of the Arts, he is currently Visiting Professor of Choral Conducting at the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music and the conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum.

Suzuki was decorated with ‘Das Verdienstkreuz am Bande des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik’ from Germany in April 2001, Bremen Musikfest Award 2011, and Bach Medal 2012 by the city of Leipzig in June 2012.