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Kenji Sakai was born in Osaka (Japan). Having studied at Kyoto University of Fine Arts and Music, he respectively studied composition, piano, electronics and analysis at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris then Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève and at Ircam. He was a member of the French Academy in Madrid for 2012-2013 then a fellow of the French Academy in Rome (Pensionnaire de la Villa Médicis) for 2015-2016.

Helmut Lachenmann described Kenji Sakai's style that his compositional virtuosity was highly developed in a personal manner in dealing with sound and time, no sterile epicenism, without fear of triviality, but with a lightness and luminosity. His works were premiered by prestigious orchestras, ensembles and soloists : Lyon National Orchestra, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, National Orchestra of Belgium, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Joanthan Nott, Jonathan Stockhammer, Norichika Iimori, Tatsuya Shimono, Momo Kodama, Tatsuki Narita, Mami Hagiwara and so on, performed in well-known festivals, at concert halls among Europe, Japan and North America. He wrote "Blue Concerto" for Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra's European tour conducted by Sylvain Cambreling and "Spiral in Blue" for Les Vents Français' Japan tour. His portrait concerts were held in various cities in Europe and Japan and in February 2017 he will be invited to Music From Japan presenting his portrait concert. He is a composer in residence of Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra for three years since 2017

He gains several awards: Grand Prix in George Enescu International Competition (2007), First Prize in Toru Takemitsu Composition Award (2009), Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne Award (2010), Queen Elisabeth International Grand Prize (2012), Akutagawa Composition Award (2013) and Georges Wildenstein Prize (2013). In July 2012, he is also awarded by Commissioner for Cultural Affairs in Japan.

His scores are exclusively published by Zen-On Music Publisher.

updated : 17th October 2016