Part of: Baroque Unlimited
Since founding Bach Collegium Japan in 1990, Masaaki Suzuki has established himself as a leading authority on the works of J. S. Bach. He has remained the ensemble’s music director ever since, taking it regularly to major venues and festivals in Europe and the US, and building an outstanding reputation for the expressive refinement and truth of his performances.
In addition to working with renowned period ensembles, such as Collegium Vocale Gent and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, he has been invited to conduct repertoire as diverse as Britten, Fauré, Haydn, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and Stravinsky with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony. This season sees Mr. Suzuki make return visits to the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Suzuki combines his conducting career with his work as an organist and harpsichordist. 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 harpsichord and organ at the Sweelinck Academy in Amsterdam with Ton Koopman and Piet Kee.
His impressive discography on the BIS label—which features Bach’s complete works for harpsichord, as well as his major choral works—has brought him many critical plaudits.
Founder and head of the early music department at the Tokyo University of the Arts, Mr. Suzuki was on the choral conducting faculty at the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music from 2009 to 2013, where he remains affiliated as the principal conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum. He was awarded the Leipzig Bach Medal in 2012 and the Royal Academy of Music Bach Prize in 2013. In April 2001, he was decorated with the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Mr. Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan received the prestigious 45th Suntory Music Prize in 2014.
Joanne Lunn studied at the Royal College of Music in London, where she was awarded the prestigious Tagore Gold Medal. Her operatic engagements have included her English National Opera debut in Steven Pimlott’s production of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea, conducted by Harry Christophers; the role of Helena in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Venice, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and directed by David Pountney; a tour of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in Spain; and semi-staged productions of Monteverdi’s Orfeo in Paris and for the Beijing International Music Festival.
In concert, Ms. Lunn has performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Sir Roger Norrington, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre. She has appeared as soloist in Handel’s Messiah at the Halle Handel Festival, and with Bach Collegium Japan and the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg; as well as in Handel’s L’Allegro, and Haydn’s Heiligmesse, Harmoniemesse, and Paukenmesse with The Monteverdi Choir and Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Ms. Lunn features as a soloist on many CD recordings. Her discography includes Vivaldi’s Laudate pueri with The King’s Consort, Haydn masses with The Monteverdi Choir and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, John Rutter’s Mass of the Children with the City of London Sinfonia, Bach’s Easter Oratorio with the Kammerchor Stuttgart and Frieder Bernius, Bach motets with the Hilliard Ensemble, Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and John Rutter, and Bach’s St. John Passion with the Dunedin Consort, which was nominated for a Gramophone Award.
Her 2018–2019 performances of Bach include concerts in Torroella de Montgrí and London with the Dunedin Consort; the Mass in B Minor with the City of London Sinfonia, BBC Symphony Orchestra, and on tour to France and Germany with Ensemble Pygmalion; and the St. John Passion in Essen and Leipzig. Her performances of Handel include Silete venti and Il delirio amoroso with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, L’Allegro at the Kölner Philharmonie with the Kölner Kammerorchester, and Messiah in Amsterdam.
Bach Collegium Japan was founded in 1990 by Masaaki Suzuki, its inspirational music director, with the aim of introducing Japanese audiences to period instrument performances of great works from the Baroque era. Comprising both Baroque orchestra and chorus with soloists, its activities include an annual concert series of Bach’s cantatas and a number of instrumental programs. The award-winning ensemble also has begun to explore Classical repertoire, releasing a recording of Mozart’s Requiem in November 2014, followed by a recent release of Mozart’s “Great” Mass, which won a 2017 Gramophone Award.
The ensemble has acquired a formidable international reputation through its acclaimed recordings of the major choral works of J. S. Bach for the BIS label; the year 2014 marked the triumphant conclusion of Bach Collegium Japan’s epic recording of the complete church cantatas, which began in 1995 and comprises 55 volumes. This major achievement was recognized with a 2014 ECHO Klassik Editorial Achievement of the Year Award. In 2010, Mr. Suzuki and the ensemble were awarded both a German Record Critics’ Award and a Diapason d’Or for their recording of Bach motets, which also received a BBC Music Magazine Award in 2011.
Bach Collegium Japan and Mr. Suzuki have shared their interpretations around the globe with performances in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, and Seoul, and participated in major festivals such as the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival, Hong Kong Arts Festival, New Zealand International Festival, Flanders Festival Ghent, and Festival Internacional Cervantino.
In 2010, the ensemble celebrated its 20th anniversary with a series of special concerts in Tokyo. A sold-out tour in the fall of 2015 marked its fifth visit to North America. Last season, Bach Collegium Japan returned to North America, performing in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington; it also embarked on a major European tour that included stops at London’s Barbican Centre, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and debut appearances at Dublin’s National Concert Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. This season includes a return to North America, where Bach Collegium Japan will participate in the Montreal Bach Festival, and perform for Early Music Seattle and Early Music Vancouver.
For additional information about touring, recordings, and special projects, visit bachcollegiumjapan.org.