“An eminent Bach interpreter in his prime”(Gramophone Magazine, May 2020)
Founder and Music Director: Bach Collegium Japan
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 Orchestra, Suzuki is invited to conduct repertoire as diverse as Brahms, Britten, Fauré, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Stravinsky, with orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio, Danish National Radio, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestras. This season he visits the Montreal Bach Festival, the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg and the Lahti 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”. 2018 marked the triumphant conclusion of Bach Collegium Japan’s epic recording of the complete sacred and secular cantatas initiated in 1995 and comprising sixty-five volumes. The ensemble has recently recorded the Grammophone´s awarded Bach´s St. John´s Passion and St. Matthew´s Passion.
Bach Collegium Japan has been invited in a previous season 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; 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. This autumn, they will be on a European tour with concerts in Wroclaw, Cologne, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Lausanne, Paris, Antwerp, Madrid, The Hague and then they will also visit the United States and Canada during winter.
Suzuki combines his conducting career with his work as an organist and harpsichordist; he recently recorded Bach’s solo works for these instruments. 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 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.
“Delivering interpretations at once so thoughtful and thought-provoking, all within an aura of spontaneous delight, can only reflect years of the most intimate contact with this music. That Suzuki shares that experience with us unimpeded, along with his seasoned view of Bach’s great humanity, is a gift of no small value.”
“Suzuki’s Bach is a byword for quality”
“An eminent Bach interpreter in his prime”
“Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan on BIS perform the symphony with the energy that we have come to expect from period instruments. Suzuki’s Beethoven is less volatile than some of his counterparts, but it offers expression and drive in equal measure, while keeping an eye on the big picture. Fifty years on, the period instrument movement still feels fresh and vital.”
“Bach-specialist Masaaki Suzuki’s lithe and re-focused account makes us listen to Mendelssohn’s choral spectacular with new ears”
“Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki has become a familiar figure on Singapore stages […] His latest venture, a gala concert with Beethoven’s monumental Missa Solemnis, might just be his greatest achievement here. […] A better or more nuanced symphonic choral evening would be hard to find.”
“Masaaki Suzuki has put Japan on the map as one of the best places to hear Bach performed in the world. ”
“Suzuki brings a very original approach to this work and likely any baroque piece. His contrasts are razor sharp, the moments when the chorus erupts, totally volcanic in energy & precision, but especially in the commitment of every singer & player.”
“An important figure in the world of Bach, Suzuki regularly performs on organ and harpsichord in major venues in Europe and the United States; conducts orchestras across the globe; and directs the Bach Collegium Japan, which he founded in 1990. With a large and diverse discography and list of honors including the Leipzig Bach Medal in 2012, Suzuki is an authority on Bach’s works and cantatas.”