Sayaka Shoji

Sayaka Shoji has become internationally recognised for her unique artistic versatility and detailed approach to her chosen repertoire. Her remarkable insight into musical languages comes from her mix of European and Japanese backgrounds. Born in Tokyo, Shoji moved to Siena, Italy when she was three. She studied at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana and Hochschule für Musik Köln, and made her European début with Lucerne Festival Strings and Rudolf Baumgartner at the Lucerne Festival, and then at the Vienna Musikverein, at the age of 14.

Since winning First Prize at the Paganini Competition in 1999, Shoji has been supported by leading conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Semyon Bychkov, Mariss Jansons and Yuri Temirkanov, to name a few. She has also worked with renowned orchestras including the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin, Los Angeles, New York and Czech philharmonics, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Vienna Symphony, Mariinsky Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra etc.

Recent highlights include returning to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for concerts in Israel as well as a Japan tour with Lahav Shani. She also made her début with the hr-Sinfonieorchester and Constantinos Carydis, Hamburg Symphony and Steven Sloane, BBC Symphony Orchestra with Kahchun Wong, and Orchestre de Chambre de Genève and Débora Waldman. She toured Japan with the Modigliani Quartet and Benjamin Grosvenor for a unique chamber recital programme which includes a play written and directed by Oriza Hirata.

Alongside her usual concert activities, Shoji created the experimental visual-music project Synesthesia in 2007, and explored oil paintings and video-art works. Her first video work (Shostakovich’s Prelude in collaboration with Pascal Frament) was chosen for the “Au-delà de mes rêves” exhibition in 2014 featuring renowned artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Sophie Calle and Robert Longo. Shoji has also collaborated with Tadao Ando, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Saburo Teshigawara in numerous occasions.

A prolific recording artist, Shoji has released 11 albums on Deutsche Grammophon including the Prokofiev, Sibelius and Beethoven violin concertos with St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuri Temirkanov; previous recordings also include a recital album with Menahem Pressler. In 2022, she released a new album with longtime collaborator Gianluca Cascioli which includes Mozart’s violin sonatas, following her previous album of the complete Beethoven Sonatas for Piano and Violin.

Shoji won the Mainichi Art Award in 2016, one of Japan’s most prestigious awards presented to those who have had a significant influence on the arts. In 2012, she was named one of the “100 Most Influential People for Japan in the Future” by Nikkei Business.

Shoji plays the 1727 Stradivarius “Récamier”, kindly loaned to her by Ueno Fine Chemicals Industry Ltd.

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©Laura Stevens

©Laura Stevens