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 the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Philharmonia Baroque, he is invited to conduct repertoire as diverse as Brahms, Britten, Fauré, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Stravinsky, with orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony, Danish National Radio Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. This season sees Suzuki make his debut with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.
Suzuki’s impressive discography on the BIS label, featuring all Bach’s major choral works as well as complete works for harpsichord, has 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”. 2014 marked the triumphant conclusion of Bach Collegium Japan’s epic recording of the complete Church Cantatas initiated in 1995 and comprising fifty-five volumes. The ensemble has now embarked upon extending their repertoire with recent discs of Mozart’s Requiem and Mass in C minor and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.
Last season Bach Collegium Japan were invited to participate, as one of three ensembles, in the cantata cycle at Bachfest Leipzig, where they also gave a critically acclaimed performance of Mendelssohn’s Elias. Other highlights included return visits to the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Théâtre de Champs Elysées, Paris, and their debut appearance in Switzerland at the Fribourg International Festival of Sacred Music. Their busy touring schedule also took them to the USA performing at venues including the Alice Tully Hall, New York and San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall.
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 Professor Emeritus of the early music department at the Tokyo University of the Arts, he was on the choral conducting faculty at the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music from 2009 until 2013, where he remains affiliated as the principal guest conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum.
In 2012 Suzuki was awarded with the Leipzig Bach Medal and in 2013 the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize. In April 2001, he was decorated with ‘Das Verdienstkreuz am Bande des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik’ from Germany.