5 Fast Facts with Masaaki Suzuki
Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415 are in New Zealand for a 10 centre tour, during May and June. Maestro Suzuki is an internationally-acclaimed and award-winning Japanese organist, harpsichordist and conductor, and the founder and musical director of the Bach Collegium Japan.
Here are Five Fast Facts, you might not know about:
Masaaki Suzuki, considered a leading authority on the works of J.S. Bach, founded the Bach Collegium Japan in 1990; he still serves as its music director, taking the ensemble regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the United States. Their 2014 New Zealand Festival concerts received glowing reports with sellout crowds. When asked about his interest in Bach, he said "I didn't choose Bach from other composers - he is the natural result of my life."
18 years and 55 CDs later, Masaaki Suzuki has finally completed his project to record the complete church cantatas of JS Bach.
Suzuki is deeply committed towards the education and development of future generations of musicians. He's the founder of the early music department at the Tokyo University of the Arts and taught there until 2010. 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. He was also the teacher of guest artist, Haru Kitamika, harpsichordist of the wildy popular ensemble, L'Arpeggiata, who toured NZ in March this year. More recently he's been collaborating with Juilliard415, the historical performance ensemble of The Juilliard School, in New York City.
It’s never too early to follow your call! Born to Christian parents who were both amateur musicians, Suzuki started playing harmonium for local church services at 12 years old, and went on to read music at Tokyo University.
He has been ridiculed for tackling Bach with Japanese musicians. According to the Guardian, one critic in Tel Aviv wrote that "There should be no connection at all between the Japanese and Bach!" Luckily for us, and for the music world, Masaaki ignored these critics and continued his invaluable studies and recordings of Bach.