The Japanese baritone, Katsunori Kono, completed his graduate studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. He studied at Hochshule Fur Musik in Munich on a scholarship offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and later studied at the Wiener Staatsoper as a research student. He won numerous prizes such as the second prize at the 43rd Geneva International Music Competition Voice Division (no first prize awarded that year), the first prize at the 37th Hertogenbosche International Voice Competition Song Division, and the Salzburg City Prize.
Katsunori Kono has participated in the Rhine Music Festival, the Salzburg Music Festival, and the Amsterdam Concertgebou, as well as recitals, operas, orchestra concerts and performances of religious music throughout Europe. He made his debut in Japan appearing in "Performance Today", sponsored by the Sony Music Foundation.
In a regular concert of the NHK Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hiroshi Wakasugi, Katsunori Kono sang the Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen by Gustav Mahler, and received high praise for his fresh and youthful singing. He frequently performs with major Japanese orchestras, and has collaborated with many conductors from all over the world such as Seiji Ozawa and Kent Nagano. On his performance of the German lied, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau praised him for his "outstanding interpretation and incredible concentration" (in the music magazine "Schott"). The recital he held in collaboration with Kazune Shimizu in October 1997 at Kioi Hall, received rave reviews such as "a most expressive baritone" and "a recital that fulfilled the audience with the pleasures of the German lied." In February 1999, he played the Barber in R. Strauss's Die Schweigsame Frau in the "Opera Concertante Series" with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Kono's portrayal of the role was a great success, and the performance served as further proof of his talent. From 1999 to 2000, he gave a recital series entitled "Songs, Three Nights, One Night Tale" which won high acclaim. In January 2001 he performed Schubert's Winterreise for the second time. From 2001 to 2002, he held a series of concerts of the 3 greatest lieds of Schubert, Schwanengesang (November 2001, at Casals Hall), Winterreise (February 2002, at "Oji Hall"), and Die Schöne Mullerin (July 2002, at Toppal Hall), all with the piano accompaniment of Ichiro Nohira.
In March 2002, Katsunori Kono released Schwanengesang (with Ichiro Nodaira as accompanist) from Nami Records. In January of 2003, Kono will be performing as a soloist in G. Mahler's Funf Lieder Nach Ruckert and Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra led by Gert Albrecht. It is expected that Kono will continue to expand on his activities in the future.