Sumiko Sato

Pianist / Composer

Sumiko Sato is a Composer/Pianist and Japanese native, who finished her doctorate at the University of Washington in composition (D.M.A.). She performs and arranges contemporary/classical works in diverse styles, also improvises freely. Often inspired by nature, she attempts to create music, with simple language and unorthodox approach. Her interest is integrating folk materials into her compositions for film, dance and theatre.

Since the great earthquake and tsunami hit her home Iwate (a Northern state of Japan) in 2011, she has been focusing on creating music using traditional folk music of Iwate, where suffered greatly from the disaster. Sato’s 2013 album “Lotus” was produced with thoughts of the victims of the earthquake, wishing the rebirth of the afflicted areas of Iwate. In 2017 she released an album based on “Sakaya Uta”- traditional work songs of Sake brew masters in Iwate, supported by Jack Straw Cultural Center in Seattle. These songs are now on the verge of extinction, due to the mechanization of the breweries. She hopes to preserve them and hand them down to the next generations, also to evoke the breath of the local musical traditions among musicians and listeners. On March 11, 2021, she released a CD, “Parhelion ~piano music inspired by Iwate folk songs” to commemorate the decade after the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.

In 2010, she was awarded Thanatopolis Concert Prize for her orchestra work, “Misthaven”. Her works have been performed worldwide by small ensembles to large groups, such as Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Sinfonia, Knox-Galesburg Symphony, Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Orchestra, Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, La Tour String Quartet and Duo Altissona, Sao Paulo.

She studied composition with Ken Benshoof, Richard Karpen, Diane Thome, piano with Patricia Michaelian, improvisation with Stuart Dempster and William O. Smith.