Berklee Student Riko Sasaski Named 2024 Yamaha Young Performing Artist

The accomplished saxophonist secured a spot among the elite winners of this year’s YYPA competition.

April 24, 2024

Riko Sasaki, a student at Berklee College of Music, has been honored as one of the 11 winners of the prestigious 2024 Yamaha Young Performing Artists (YYPA) competition for her exceptional saxophone performance and musicianship.

The YYPA competition is designed to acknowledge and reward exceptional young musicians who are studying in the United States and excel in classical, jazz, and contemporary music genres.

Sasaki began her musical journey in Japan when she was 8 eight years old. Inspired by her sister’s classical saxophone music and the tone of the instrument, she decided to step foot into the saxophone realm. 

"The 2024 Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition Winners are extraordinary," said John Wittmann, associate vice president of Yamaha Artist Relations Group, in a statement. "The 11 winners are diverse, versatile, and inspirational, comprising of a unique group of promising young talent. There is no doubt that the entire YYPA celebration weekend will culminate in a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience this year. We at Yamaha remain dedicated to music education and enjoy doing all we can to guide young music makers into rewarding careers.”

Sasaki first participated in Berklee’s Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive, and soon realized that music was more than a personal passion. In her efforts to carve out a career as an artist, she decided to refine and expand her own musical style by enrolling at the college as an undergraduate. 

Reflecting on this impressive achievement, Sasaki feels “very surprised but also very honored” and is grateful for what she learned from Professor Tiger Okoshi. The performer “would like to continue to follow the path [she] believes in as a musician to live up to this award,” and that “through this award, [her music] will lead to opportunities and reach many people.”

The winners of the 2024 YYPA Program will receive an all-expense-paid trip to the YYPA Celebration Weekend June 22–25, 2024, held in Muncie, Indiana, during the Music for All Summer Symposium at Ball State University.