Since he founded Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on J.S. Bach. As the ensemble’s music director, he regularly takes them to major venues and festivals in Europe and the US, building a 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 conducts diverse repertoire — including works by Brahms, Britten, Fauré, Mahler, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky — with orchestras such as the Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France and the Bavarian Radio, Danish National Radio, Gothenburg, and Yomiuri Nippon symphony orchestras. This season he visits the Montreal Bach Festival, San Francisco Symphony, Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, and Lahti Symphony Orchestra, as well as the New York Philharmonic.
Suzuki’s discography on BIS features all of Bach’s major choral and complete harpsichord works. In 2018 Bach Collegium Japan concluded the epic 65-volume recording of the complete sacred and secular cantatas begun in 1995, and recently released the Gramophone Award–winning recordings of the St. John and St. Matthew Passions.
Bach Collegium Japan was one of three ensembles to perform the cantata cycle at Leipzig’s Bachfest, where they also performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Their tours have brought them to US venues including New York City’s Alice Tully Hall and San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. This autumn they tour Europe, appearing in Wrocław, Cologne, Vienna, Dusseldorf, Lausanne, Paris, Antwerp, Madrid, and The Hague; this winter they visit the US and Canada.
Also an organist and harpsichordist, Masaaki Suzuki recently recorded Bach’s solo works for both instruments. Born in Kobe, Japan, he graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music with a degree in composition and organ performance, and went on to study at Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatory under Ton Koopman and Piet Kee. Founder and professor emeritus of Tokyo University of the Arts’s early music department, from 2009 until 2013 he served on the choral conducting faculty at the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where he remains principal guest conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum. He is the recipient of the Leipzig Bach Medal (2012), Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize (2013), and Germany’s Das Verdienstkreuz am Bande des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik (2001).