Sayaka Shoji
Violin

“Shoji isn't merely a superb technician, she's a deeply engaging performer. Her richly resonant, spirited sound that is impressive and so, too, is the poetic delicacy of her phrasing.” (Gramophone)

Contacts

Jasper Parrott +44 (0)20 7229 9166
Federico Hernandez +44 (0)20 3725 9184
Camilla Walt +44 (0)20 3725 9151

Biography

Described by Gramophone magazine as “a formidable musician, able to draw on huge reserves of stamina and the unflinching equal of anything thrown at her,” Sayaka Shoji regularly performs with the world’s leading conductors including: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Paavo JärviOsmo Vänskä, Sir Antonio Pappano and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

This season, Sayaka will tour to Japan with The Mariinsky Orchestra under the inimitable baton of Valery Gergiev. Continuing her relationship with Krzysztof Penderecki she will perform with Sinfónica de Galicia and Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Gianandrea Noseda). In 2018 she joins the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich (Yutaka Sado) for a performance at Vienna’s Musikverein. Further ahead, she performs with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and pianist Vikingur Ólafsson (Vladimir Ashkenazy) and the Würth Philharmonic Orchestra (Leo Hussain).

Described by Gramophone magazine as “a formidable musician, able to draw on huge reserves of stamina and the unflinching equal of anything thrown at her,” Sayaka Shoji regularly performs with the world’s leading conductors including: Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Paavo Järvi, Osmo Vänskä, Sir Antonio Pappano and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Recent engagements have included concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra.

This season, Sayaka will tour to Japan with The Mariinsky Orchestra under the inimitable baton of Valery Gergiev. Continuing her relationship with Krzysztof Penderecki she will perform with Sinfónica de Galicia and Accademia di Santa Cecilia (Gianandrea Noseda). In 2018 she joins the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich (Yutaka Sado) for a performance at Vienna’s Musikverein. Further ahead, she performs with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and pianist Vikingur Ólafsson (Vladimir Ashkenazy) and the Würth Philharmonic Orchestra (Leo Hussain).

Sayaka performs regularly with her long-time mentor and supporter, Yuri Termikanov. With the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra they have toured to Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain, UK, Ireland, Belgium, France, Italy, and USA, and will return to Japan in 2018 and further collaborations this season include a concert tour to Russia and recording of the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius concertos.

Recording partners have included Menahem Pressler with whom Sayaka collaborated for a live recording of Mozart, Schubert and Brahms released on Deutsche Grammophon, and Gianluca Cascioli for Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas 5 and 6 on the same label. For Mirare, Sayaka has recorded solo pieces by Bach and Reger and Shostakovich’s Violin Concertos with the Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Dmitri Liss.

Sayaka plays a 1729 Recamier Stradivarius which is kindly loaned to her by Ueno Fine Chemicals Industry Ltd. 

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Contacts

Jasper Parrott +44 (0)20 7229 9166
Federico Hernandez +44 (0)20 3725 9184
Camilla Walt +44 (0)20 3725 9151

Reviews

“Wednesday’s soloist in the concerto was Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji, who in 1999 became the youngest winner and first Japanese to capture the Paganini Competition. Playing a 1729 Stradivarius, she displayed a tone that was luxurious in the lower registers, especially at the beginning, and sweet as she ascended to the upper reaches in the second movement. She sailed effortlessly through the third movement’s pyrotechnics and was joined throughout by sympathetic accompaniment from Temirkanov and Co.” (Robert D. Thomas, March 2017, The Orange County Register)

“Soloist Sayaka Shoji (first prize-winner at the 1999 Paganini Competition) demonstrated admirable technical assurance and total commitment to the cause, playing as if she truly loved the music.” (Robert Markow, backtrack, November 2016) 

“She allowed the music to speak for itself and wisely focused instead on technical matters, on tone, articulation, and dynamics.” (Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, October 2016)

“Wednesday’s soloist in the concerto was Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji, who in 1999 became the youngest winner and first Japanese to capture the Paganini Competition. Playing a 1729 Stradivarius, she displayed a tone that was luxurious in the lower registers, especially at the beginning, and sweet as she ascended to the upper reaches in the second movement. She sailed effortlessly through the third movement’s pyrotechnics and was joined throughout by sympathetic accompaniment from Temirkanov and Co.” (Robert D. Thomas, March 2017, The Orange County Register)

“Soloist Sayaka Shoji (first prize-winner at the 1999 Paganini Competition) demonstrated admirable technical assurance and total commitment to the cause, playing as if she truly loved the music.” (Robert Markow, backtrack, November 2016) 

“She allowed the music to speak for itself and wisely focused instead on technical matters, on tone, articulation, and dynamics.” (Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, October 2016)

“The first Japanese and youngest-ever winner of the Paganini Competition in 1999 has ample technical ability, but it was her beautifully crafted playing that truly impressed. Shoji treated her listeners to amazing permutations of articulation, tone colour, dynamics and phrasing, while keeping everything coherent and un-forced.” (The Straits Times, October 2016)

“Her performance here revealed impeccable intonation and an ability to sculpt phrases with considerable eloquence.” (Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, February 2014)

“Sayaka Shoji is not big, but she certainly has a powerful sound. This was impressive, muscular playing, the bow biting into the string up near the bridge, a hair's breadth away from ponticello. She has a gorgeous tone, is passionate and expressive, and she takes risks, playing with a rubato that is never excessive and constantly aids the shaping of the music and its direction. She could be ravishingly soft as well, although she ignored Tchaikovsky's request for a mute in the Canzonetta. The finale was a devil-take-the-hindmost affair, full of dash and colour, with the air of a caprice and a hint of recklessness. This was a proper, thrilling, live event.” (Tim Homfray, The Strad, October 2013)

“Blessed with a big, rich tone and possessing a virtuoso technique to match, Shoji transmitted the spirit of the work, whether intimate or grand, to perfection: dignity without a hint of excess in the first movement, confiding and delicate in the ‘Canzonetta’, and in the finale, where her talent blazed. Sayaka Shoji is definitely a violinist to watch out for.” (Richard Landau, Classical Source, June 2013)

“Shoji and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra performed (Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto) in perfect synchronisation, with Shoji's sound gaining more momentum as the rhythmic intensity increased. Her sound was beautifully romantic in the slow movement and she demonstrated her extraordinary musicality in the finale.”  (Ongaku Gendai, March, 2013)

“[In] Prokofiev’s Violin Concert No.2, the young Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji could show all her splendour, with a coarse, almost harsh sound, wonderful legato and extraordinary definition.” (El Correo De Andalucia, March, 2013)

“Prokofiev’s Concerto No.2 for violin is a real wonder, especially when the soloist is someone as unorthodox and virtuoso as Sayaka Shoji, who gave us an immense Prokofiev, marking the strong contrast between the first two movements and the third – all of which require a tremendous virtuosity.” (ABC de Sevilla, March, 2013) 

“Sayaka Shoji is a remarkable newcomer in the always-moving violin universe. Shoji strikes primarily by her intense playing and its unique sound that manages to touch the soul directly.” (Opus Klassiek, February 2013) 

“Young Japanese violinist Sayaka Shoji’s heart-on-sleeve approach reminds us that this is a concerto surprisingly rich in bittersweet melody. She’s especially good in the lyrical slow movement; proof that Shostakovich’s gift for a memorable tune didn’t desert him in his final decade.” (theartsdesk.com, April 2012)

“The sound the tiny violinist drew from her priceless instrument was so ravishing and well-crafted as to put many a violinist performing today in the shade. She demonstrated the daunting technique that helped her win first prize in the prestigious International Paganini Competition at the age of 16 (the first Japanese and youngest violinist to do so). However, her technical arsenal was totally allied to the needs of the music, as in the way she brought out lines in her double stops and negotiated smooth, perfect octaves.”  (Music in Cincinnati, October 2009)

“Technically secure and thrillingly passionate.”  (The Guardian, February 2008)