Dai Fujikura: Chance Monsoon

, composer


Dai Fujikura’s newest release on his Minabel imprint occupies a wide range of instrumentations, from solo works for guitar, Japanese shamisen, and piano to a work for voice and string quartet, a unique work for Taiko drumming ensemble, and two orchestral pieces.


Dai Fujikura’s newest release on his Minabel imprint occupies a wide range of instrumentations, from solo works for guitar, Japanese shamisen, and piano to a work for voice and string quartet, a unique work for Taiko drumming ensemble, and two orchestral pieces. Chance Monsoon, written for Soichi Muraji, explores various different ways of arpeggiating and extending the sustain of the fast decay of the guitar, an instrument Fujikura compares to a small piece of jewelry. Uto was written as the result of a commission by a Taiko percussion ensemble in the Uto region of Japan. The work was as inspired by the practice of using Taiko drum music to pray for rain in the regional culture as it was by the material of the Taiko tradition itself. The three solo piano pieces are the byproduct of a compositional habit of Fujikura’s — to go back to the keyboard and constrain himself to exploration of some musical parameter within the context of a small work. Later, the solutions he arrives at often manifest themselves in his larger scale works. Neo was written for the Japanese plucked string instrument, the shamisen. Fujikura found he held a caricature view of the instrument shaped by television and film portrayals of shamisen performers, before he began to work on the piece. Unlike Uto, the process of composing the work drew him away from the cultural connotations and inside the mechanics and technical layout of the instrument. Rare Gravity for orchestra expresses the weightlessness and protective sphere of being inside a mother’s womb. The work is developmental, as is a fetus, and Fujikura endeavors to find a meditative space for the music despite fluctuations in tempo. Silence Seeking Solace is a collaboration with poet Harry Ross, and inspired by sculptures in Salzburg. Scored for soprano and string quartet, the work marries techniques in the vocal part with the timbre of the strings. Fujikura’s Cello Concerto closes the recording, with a performance by the International Contemporary Ensemble and Katinka Kleijn as soloist. The material of the work was drawn from a solo cello work, osm, and Fujikura’s challenge in composing the concerto was to determine how to enhance the aura of the soloist’s part in the ensemble without overshadowing it.

All works published by Ricordi International

Engineer: Ryan Streber (Track 2,4,5,6,8) Soichi Muraji (Track 1), Yoshitaka Miyahara (Track 3), Mari Yamamoto (Track 7), Ross Karre (Track 9)

Recording locations: Oktaven Audio, Mount Vernon, NY (Tracks 2, 4,5,6,8), Gotanda Bunka Centre (Track 1), Uto City Hall (Track 3), Aichi Arts Center (Track 7), Merkin Concert Hall (Track 9)

Producer: Dai Fujikura (Tracks 1, 3, 6-9), Jacob Greenberg (Tracks 2, 4, 5)

Dai Fujikura

Although Dai Fujikura was born in Osaka, he has now spent more than 20 years in the UK where he studied composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Daryl Runswick and George Benjamin. During the last decade he has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including Kazimierz Serocki International Composers’ Competition 1998 and a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in UK, Internationaler Wiener Composition Prize, the Paul Hindemith Prize in Austria and Germany respectively and both the OTAKA and Akutagawa awards in 2009.

A quick glance at his list of commissions and performances reveals he is fast becoming a truly international composer. His music is not only performed in the country of his birth or his adopted home, but is now performed in venues as geographically diverse as Caracas and Oslo, Venice and Schleswig-Holstein, Lucerne and Paris.

In his native Japan he has been accorded the special honour of a portrait concert in Suntory Hall in October 2012. In London where he chooses to live with his wife and family, he has now received two BBC Proms commissions, his Double Bass Concerto was recently premiered by the London Sinfonietta and in 2013 the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave the UK premiere of ‘Atom’ as part of the Total Immersion: Sounds from Japan.

The French music world too has taken him to its hearts with numerous commissions, culminating in his first opera – an artistic collaboration with Saburo Teshigawara, which will be co-produced by Theatre des Champs Elysées, Lausanne and Lille. In Germany the European premiere of ‘Tocar y Luchar,’ the world premiere of which was given in Venezuela by Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, was given at the Ultraschall Festival in Berlin. His next German commission is ‘Grasping’ for the Munich Chamber Orchestra which was premiered in Korea before being brought back to Munich. Switzerland has featured his music at the Lucerne Festival, Austria at the Salzburg Festival and Norway at the Punkt Festival and a commission in 2013 from the Oslo Sinfonietta.

Conductors with whom he has worked include Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Jonathan Nott, Gustavo Dudamel, the newly-appointed conductor of the Suisse Romande, Kazuki Yamada and Alexander Liebreich. His compositions are increasingly the product of international co-commissions. In 2012/13 the Seattle and Bamberg Symphony will each give continental premieres of ‘Mina’ for wind a percussion soloists and orchestra and the Asian premiere will be given by Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2011/12 the Arditti Quartet performed ‘flare’ in collaborating venues in London, Edinburgh and Tokyo. His opera, which is based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel, Solaris, will be co-produced in both France and Switzerland.

In 2012 NMC released "secret forest", the first disc devoted exclusively to his music, and in 2013 Commmons released "Mirrors", an album including four of his orchestral works. KAIROS has released "ice" an album including his chamber and electronics music. He also runs his own record label Minabel. Minabel has released six of his portrait albums, two of which are collaboration with SONY Japan.

He has also collaborated in the experimental pop/jazz/improvisation world. A co-composition with Ryuichi Sakamoto was premiered in Hakuju Hall in Japan, collaborative works with David Sylvian are on Sylvian's "died in the wool" album and also Dai's co-compositions with Jan Bang and Sidsel Endresen feature on Jan Bang's album, released from Jazzland records.

Dai Fujikura is published by Ricordi Berlin.


Soichi Muraji

Soichi Muraji was born in 1982 and started to play the guitar at the age of three. His teachers in Japan include Shinichi Fukuda and Daisuke Suzuki. In 1999, he came to Boston and began studying the guitar with David Leisner and Eliot Fist at New England Conservatory. In 2004, Soichi released his second album, "Fuoco,” including his most famed songs. The following year, he released his 3rd album, "New Sketch." In June 2006, his fourth album, “America” was released, and in May 2008, his fifth album "Dreams" was released. In 2007, Sochi released “Danza Brasilera,” used on in-flight audio programs on airlines such as All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines (JAL). That summer, he played “Concierto de Aranjuez” with New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra (Conductor: Arumink) and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra (Conductor: Shunsuke Hori).

Jacob Greenberg

Pianist Jacob Greenberg’s work as a soloist and chamber musician has received worldwide acclaim. As a longtime member of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), he has performed throughout the Americas and Europe. His solo concert series, Music at Close Range, shows his equal commitment to classics of the repertoire.

A leading pianist of modern song, he has toured extensively with soprano Tony Arnold; their 2013 recording of Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi has been singled out by critics. Other ensemble performances include MusicNOW, with members of the Chicago Symphony, and Contempo at the University of Chicago. As an orchestral player, he has also appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, and Australian Chamber Orchestra.

In addition to his solo albums for New Focus Recordings, which feature works by over a dozen composers, Mr. Greenberg has recorded for the Nonesuch, Sony, Bridge, Naxos, Mode, Kairos, Centaur, Tzadik, and New Amsterdam labels. Live performances have been heard on WQXR New York, BBC Radio 3, WFMT Chicago and Radio Netherlands. Mr. Greenberg is also a record producer, and has completed discs for major domestic and international labels. He is the director of ICE’s in-house Tundra imprint. As a composer, he makes recorded pieces with spoken and sung texts.

Recent highlights include a guest performance of works of György Kurtág at the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt, Germany, under the composer’s guidance; a recital tour with flutist Claire Chase; Boulez’s Sur Incises with the Seattle Symphony; and solo and concerto appearances with ICE at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival.

Mr. Greenberg is on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center, and has taught at Hunter College, City University of New York, The Juilliard School, and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, where he earned degrees in music and religion, and he completed his master’s and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University, where he studied with Ursula Oppens. Please visit jacobgreenberg.net.


Honjoh Hidejiro

Hidejiro Honjo is an award-winning shamisen performer. Honjo studied under Hidetaro Honjoh and graduated from the Japanese Toho Gakuen College of Drama and Music, where he currently teaches. He has been commissioned by many composers and holds a solo recital four times a year. Honjo primarily specializes in modern music and performs with the international contemporary ensemble groups and orchestras. This year he received the furtherance of the Asian Cultural Council as a grantee.

Alice Teyssier

“An arresting soprano, in all senses” (LA Times), Alice Teyssier has appeared as a soloist with the San Diego Symphony, International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, the San Francisco New Music Players, Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, and the Bach Collegium San Diego (amongst others). She is a regular guest to the Monday Evening Concerts series, where she has premiered numerous works - from Salvatore Sciarrino to Cassandra Miller. In 2008, Alice was “haunting” in the United States premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s opera 'Lost Highway', after the David Lynch film, at Columbia University’s Miller Theater; she has since presented many modern operas by Viktor Ullman, Anthony Davis and Esteban Insinger, amongst others.

The Rhythm Method

Praised for their “uncompromising and unreserved . . . intense, and sensuously gestural” performances (examiner.com), The Rhythm Method strives to reimagine the string quartet in a contemporary context. Since their founding in 2014, the group has given soulful, spirited performances in New York, Vienna, Paris, and Lucerne, and tackled works ranging from classics by Ligeti and Webern to newer works/premieres by Tonia Ko, Dai Fujikura, Andrew Norman, John Zorn, and other living composers, including members of the ensemble. Through a mixture of thoughtful programming, captivating performances, and collaborations with sound artists, visual artists, and songwriters as well as composers, they present concert experiences that engage and challenge their audiences.

International Contemporary Ensemble

Called “America’s foremost new music group” by The New Yorker, The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) is an artist collective that is transforming the way music is created and experienced. As performer, curator, and educator, ICE explores how new music intersects with communities across the world. The ensemble’s 35 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored ICE’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present. A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, ICE was also named the 2014 Musical America Ensemble of the Year. The group currently serves as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a five-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. ICE was featured at the Ojai Music Festival from 2015 to 2017, and at recent festivals abroad such as gmem-CNCM-marseille and Vértice at Cultura UNAM, Mexico City. Other performance stages have included the Park Avenue Armory, The Stone, ice floes at Greenland’s Diskotek Sessions, and boats on the Amazon River.

New initiatives include OpenICE, made possible with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which offers free concerts and related programming wherever ICE performs, and enables a working process with composers to unfold in public settings. DigitICE, a free online library of over 350 streaming videos, catalogues the ensemble’s performances. ICE's First Page program is a commissioning consortium that fosters close collaborations between performers, composers, and listeners as new music is developed. EntICE, a side-by-side education program, places ICE musicians within youth orchestras as they premiere new commissioned works together; inaugural EntICE partners include Youth Orchestra Los Angeles and The People's Music School in Chicago. Summer activities include Ensemble Evolution at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, in which young professionals perform with ICE and attend workshops on topics from interpretation to concert production. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for ICE.


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