Ayako Sugaya has been in the first violin section of Pacific Symphony since 1997. She came directly to the orchestra after completing her undergraduate and graduate degrees at New England Conservatory (NEC) in Boston, where she was recognized with the Distinction in Performance award. Her primary violin professor at NEC was Ms. Masuko Ushioda who was a disciple of Joseph Szigeti.
While Sugaya was studying at NEC, she won numerous orchestra auditions and awards. She has received fellowships and principal positions for many prestigious music festival orchestras including Tanglewood Music Center and Schelswig-Holstein Music Festival, Germany. In addition, she was appointed as concertmistress for Sir. Simon Rattle in the performance of Shostakovich Symphony No. 4 with the NEC Symphony Orchestra. She was also selected to perform regularly with the Gardner Chamber Orchestra, a resident orchestra of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Mass. In 1995, she won the Japanese American Association Music Award which led her to the debut performance at Merkin Concert Hall in New York.
In addition to her performance activities through Pacific Symphony, Sugaya has performed with Colorado Music Festival since 2008, and she maintains a growing and successful private teaching studio.