President of Tokyo University of the Arts
Kazuki Sawa was born in Wakayama City in 1955. In 1979, he graduated from a graduate program at Tokyo University of the Arts. He has received the Ataka Prize. He has also won awards at various international competitions, including the Concours international Marguerite-Long-Jacques-Thibaud, the International Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition, and the International Music Competition in Munich. His international career as a violinst has seen him win accolades including the Ysa?e Medal and a gold medal at the Bordeaux String Quartet Competition. In 1984, he launched his career with a performance at Tokyo University of the Arts. In 1989, he was sent to the Royal Academy of Music in the UK as an overseas researcher from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture. It was during this time that an encounter with a member of the Amadeus Quartet led him to decide to form the Sawa Quartet. In 2004, he received the Wakayama Prefecture Culture Award. He has served as president of Tokyo University of the Arts since 2016. He is also a professor emeritus of the Royal Academy of Music in the UK. He serves as music advisor to the Hibiki Strings of Japan. He is the full-time director of the Senri Philharmonia Osaka.
I've visited Kumano every year since 1987, when I first brought a group of children studying violin in Tokyo and the Kansai region to a violin camp in the Shimokitayama Village. Dialog with nature through the luxuriant Japanese cypress and cedar trees and the clear-flowing upper reaches of the Kumano-gawa River had an enormously stimulating effect on the city-dwelling children’s sensibilities, and it was a joyful thing to witness remarkable growth that would not be possible through lessons in a normal classroom setting.
A joint performance by the Sawa Quartet and Shiro Nomura, a Living Treasure of the Kanze school of Noh theater, held in front of the hall of worship at Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine on the fifth anniversary of Kumano’s registration as a World Heritage as well as a joint performance and dedication with the Henschel Quartet, an internationally renowned string quartet from Germany, combined with the sacred, clear Kumano air in late autumn to form some of my most unforgettable performance experiences.
Koyasan and Kumano are not just places of Buddhist and Shinto belief and asceticism, but also an invaluable legacy shared by all humankind that inspires humility and a willingness to look anew at oneself. We must pass this legacy down to future generations.