Photo/IllutrationHaruma Sato (Provided by AMATI)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Haruma Sato became the first Japanese to win the top prize in the cello category of the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, widely considered the highest-level contest of its kind.

“It is an honor that I was awarded the first prize in the extremely prestigious competition,” Sato, 21, from Nagoya, said in a statement released on Sept. 14. “By using this result for motivation, I will continue to make the utmost efforts.”

Sato started playing cello at the age of 6. When he was a fourth-grader at an elementary school, he joined the NHK Nagoya Junior Orchestra. He heightened his skills in his five years as a member.

When he was a second-year student of a high school attached to the Tokyo University of the Arts, he won the first prize in the cello category of the Music Competition of Japan.

He is now studying at the Berlin University of the Arts.

The competition in the cello category of the ARD contest is held once every four or five years. Sato won the 15th competition in a field of 166 cellists.

Two Japanese cellists have won second prize: Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi in 1963 and Gen Yokosaka in 2010.

Sato also won the top prize at the Witold Lutoslawski International Cello Competition held in Poland in 2018.

He is scheduled to hold his debut recitals in Tokyo, Nagoya and other areas in December.