Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Conductor Laureate
In February 1964, a year after graduating, Mr. Akiyama made his debut engagement with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. The tremendous success of this collaboration led to his nomination for the dual posts of Music Director and Permanent Conductor just two months later.
Overseas, his conducting successes began with U.S. and European tours of the Toho Gakuen School of Music Orchestra. He quickly went on to conduct various orchestras in Canada and the U.S., the success of these partnerships leading to Mr. Akiyama being invited to hold professional posts as Assistant Conductor of the Toronto Symphony (1968-1969), Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra (1973-1978), and Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (1972-1985). In 1985, he was granted the title of Conductor Laureate of the Vancouver Symphony upon leaving his post there and from 1985 to 1993, Maestro Akiyama held the post of Music Director to the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
During this time, Mr. Akiyama´s reputation spread to Europe and through the U.S., where he has been invited to conduct orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, Cologne Broadcast Symphony, the Bayerischer Rundfunk, the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland and the Philadelphia Orchestras.
In 1991, Kazuyoshi Akiyama led the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra on a successful world tour to celebrate the orchestra´s 45th anniversary, which included performances in New York at the United Nations, as well as in London under the auspices of the UK Japan Festival.
Following his many years of collaboration with the orchestra, he was made Conductor Laureate of the TSO and Mr. Akiyama also acts as Principal Conductor acted as Principal Conductor and Music Adviser of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra since 1998.
A committed advocate of rare and contemporary repertoires, in 1994, for the 400th subscription performance of TSO, he conducted a concert style performance of Schoenberg’s Moses and Aaron, the first Japan performance of that work with Japanese artists. He also has conducted several Japanese premieres of works by composers such as Helmut Lachenmann (The Little Match Girl) and John Adams (El Niño).
Kazuyoshi Akiyama is the recipient of numerous citations, including the Suntory Music Award of 1975, the Kyoto Music Award of 1993, the 1995 Mainichi Arts Award, the 1995 Arts Encouragement Prize of the Minister of Education, and the 29th Suntory Music Award. In 2001, Mr. Akiyama was awarded Japan´s Medal with Purple Ribbon, the highest honor in Japan.