JURY

SAKO Akiyoshi Japan

Japanese pianist Akiyoshi Sako won the 35th Geneva International Music Competition in 1980 (second prize, with no first prize winner) and the 27th International Piano Competition Premio Jaén in 1983 which also honored him with the Spanish Music Award. His elegant sound and clear lyricism have since attracted attention both within and outside Japan, and he has performed not only in his native Japan, but also throughout Europe, Canada and Asia.

Akiyoshi Sako studied with Yasuko Nakayama at the Tokyo University of the Arts and received the Kreutzer Award in 1980 as a graduate student. He was also a first prize winner in the chamber ensemble category at the Tokyo International Music Competition. Following graduation, he received a scholarship from the German government to continue his studies at the Munich Conservatory of Music, taking master classes with Klaus Schilde.

Akiyoshi Sako resided in Milan, Italy, between 1984 and 1998, during which time he performed at concert venues in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He was lauded for his strong qualities such as his clarity, articulate sense of rhythm and a naturally breathing musicality.

He has performed with major Japanese and international orchestras as a soloist, and has also appeared with numerous world-class musicians as an active chamber pianist. These activities in both fields let him enjoy the full confidence of collaborators and a highly appreciative audience. In 1998 he received the ABC International Music Award for his duet performance with cellist Noboru Kamimura.

In 2001, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his debut, Akiyoshi Sako performed a series of eight concerts “Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas Cycle”, which gained wide coverage and acclaim in the media. Following the achievement, he released a set of recordings “Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas”, all of which were well regarded and chosen especially as a “Highly Commended Disc” or “Recommended Disc” by the most prestigious Japanese CD magazine Record Geijutsu.

More recently, in October 2013, he gave a recital in the Hamarikyu Asahi Hall, Tokyo. The program included J.S. Bach, Beethoven – the fundamental cornerstone of his repertoire –, Liszt and Granados. Receiving critical acclaims such as “The performance was overflowing with his joy of playing. He brought comfort to the audience by exalting even dark and somber phrasings to the beauty”, Akiyoshi Sako is now expected to have further success in the future.

After making his conducting debut with the Kyushu Symphony Orchestra in 1999, he appears on the podiums of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic, Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, Japan Century Symphony Orchestra, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Kanagawa Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra, Gunma Symphony Orchestra, and more. His refined way of pulling music from the score has fascinated audiences as well as critics.

Acknowledged also as an eminent teacher, Akiyoshi Sako is currently Head of the Music Department of the Tokyo University of the Arts, as well as visiting professor at the Tokyo College of Music and the Senzoku Gakuen College of Music.

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