Chicago native Junichi Steven Sato began his piano studies at the age of five. Although formal studies in theory, harmony, counterpoint, and composition were not begun until the age of 12, he had been writing music since the age of six. His teachers include Vladimir Leyetchkiss, Dmitry Paperno, and Edmund Battersby. He also participated by invitation and under full scholarships in piano and chamber music masterclasses in the United States and abroad, studying under such artists as John Browning, Arthur Greene, and André Watts. Mr. Sato holds a Bachelor of Music degree (honors) in Piano Performance from DePaul University and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance with a Cognate in Composition from Indiana University, where, as an associate instructor of piano and the recipient of a doctoral teaching fellowship, he had also completed additional doctorate courses. In 1995 he was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, a professional music honor society, and in 1997 he was awarded Indiana University's coveted Performer's Certificate, the school's highest honor. Mr. Sato's biographical profile has been included in Marquis Who's Who in America since its 58th edition (2003).
Mr. Sato has made several appearances on television and radio programs as both performer and composer. In 1991, Miss America Marjorie Vincent presented him with a music scholarship from the Dolores Kohl Education Foundation and he appeared on WBBM-TV Chicago's Channel 2 News. That year he was also a finalist in the Illinois Young Performers Competition, concerto competition of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He has won awards at numerous competitions such as the Young Keyboard Artists Association International Piano Competition and the Society of American Musicians Piano Competition, and was a semifinalist at the 48th Busoni International Piano Competition in Italy. A frequent adjudicator at piano and composition competitions, he chairs Illinois State Music Teachers Association's Composition Contest, co-chairs Chicago Area Music Teachers Association's Roberta Savler Piano Contest, and recently served as Chairman of the Jury for the Fifth "Këngët e Tokës" International Music Competition in Albania, sponsored in part by the Albanian Ministry of Culture.
As a composer, Mr. Sato describes his writing as being in an eclectic style. Not surprisingly, much of his output is for piano solo. Some of his early original works have won awards at the Music Teachers National Association High School Composition Contest. This led to a feature article on Mr. Sato in the American edition of a major Japanese newspaper, which, in turn, attracted the attention of Benihana executives, who commissioned him to co-author a musical work for the restaurant chain. Aside from his original compositions, Mr. Sato has also produced many arrangements, transcriptions, and pastiches. His first major arrangement, a two-piano, four-hand transcription of the orchestra part of the finale from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 was inspired by the three years he spent as accompanist for DePaul University choirs. This transcription received its first performance in 1995 with the DePaul University Choral Union. Mr. Sato's works are performed internationally, some of which have been heard at Ravinia Festival and on National Public Radio.
In 1995, he founded J. S. Sato Music Editions, a music publishing business that has been gaining worldwide reputation as a publisher of highly unique and dependable editions. Shortly after he published his own transcription of Liszt's Psalm XIII in 1997, he was invited to give the première of this work at the American Liszt Society Festival in Nashville. A review in a subsequent issue of Piano & Keyboard magazine declared "[Sato's] transcription of Liszt's Psalm XIII ... makes an effective concert piece, at once pianistically idiomatic and dramatically coherent.... The result is a gripping 20 minutes of music ... which you might have mistaken for one of Liszt's lost masterpieces for piano in this remarkable (and, happily, very playable) transcription...." His other publications have also been highly praised in Piano & Keyboard as well as in other journals and magazines such as Clavier and 20th-Century Music.
Mr. Sato is currently on the faculty at DePaul University and at Music Makers of Western Springs. His students have won honors in various piano and composition competitions, including the prestigious Music Teachers National Association Composition Contest. In addition to his heavy teaching schedule, he performs regularly, often in collaboration with cellist Rachel Galay. Together they have established themselves as, in the words of world-renowned cellist Janos Starker, a duo of "high level musicianship and ensemble playing." Mr. Sato's debut album of his solo piano transcriptions of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue and Liszt's Psalm XIII, as well as a rare Cortot transcription of Franck's Sonata for Piano and Violin was recently released by Sato Music Editions.
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