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Each year since 2003, the City of Leipzig has awarded the Bach Medal to musicians whose work focuses on Bach in a significant way. On 8 June, at a ceremony at the Old City Hall, the 2012 Bach Medal was presented to the Japanese conductor and organist Masaaki Suzuki.

Suzuki, born in 1954, undertook his training as an organist, harpsichordist and composer, first in Tokyo and then in Amsterdam at the Sweelinck Conservatorium with Ton Koopman and Piet Kee. He serves as a professor of organ and harpsichord at the Tokyo University of the Arts and is Visiting Professor of Choral Conducting at the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music and conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum.

In 1995 Masaaki Suzuki launched a project to record Bach’s complete cantatas with the Bach Collegium Japan, and following the award ceremony, Suzuki and that ensemble performed the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244b) with soloists Hana Blažiková and Rachel Nicholls (soprano), Robin Blaze (contralto), Gerd Türk (tenor – Evangelist) and Peter Kooij (bass) as part of this year’s Bachfest Leipzig.