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

Born in 1977 in Osaka Japan, Dai Fujikura was fifteen when he moved to the UK. The recipient of many composition prizes, he has received numerous international co-commissions from the Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, BBC Proms, Bamberg Symphony, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra and more. He has been Composer-in-Residence of Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra since 2014 and held the same post at the Orchestre national d'Île-de-France in 2017/18. Dai’s first opera Solaris, co-commissioned by the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Opéra de Lausanne and the Opéra de Lille, had its world premiere in Paris in 2015 and has since gained a worldwide reputation. A new production of Solaris was created and performed at the Theatre Augsburg in 2018, and the opera received a subsequent staging in 2020.

In 2017, Dai received the Silver Lion Award from the Venice Biennale. In the same year, he was named the Artistic Director of the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater’s Born Creative Festival.

In 2019, his Shamisen Concerto was premiered at Mostly Mozart festival in New York Lincoln Center and there have so far been 9 performances of this work by various orchestras.

In 2020, his fourth piano concerto Akiko’s Piano is to be premiered by Martha Argerich and Dai is currently composing his third opera, which will be revealed to the public in the same year.

His works are recorded by and released mainly on his own label Minabel Records in collaboration with SONY Music and his compositions are 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. A longtime member of the International Contemporary Ensemble, 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.

Recent highlights include a guest performance of works of György Kurtág at the International Summer Courses in Darmstadt, Germany, under the composer's guidance; concerts at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival; Boulez’s Sur Incises with the Seattle Symphony; and solo and concerto appearances with the International Contemporary Ensemble at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. Live performances have been heard on WQXR New York, BBC Radio 3, WFMT Chicago and Radio Netherlands.

As an orchestral player, Mr. Greenberg has appeared with the New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, and Australian Chamber Orchestra. He performs often with the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW. 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. Mr. Greenberg is also recognized as a coach for contemporary opera.

In addition to his solo albums for New Focus Recordings, which feature works from the Baroque to many new commissions, he has recorded for the Nonesuch, Sony, Bridge, Naxos, Mode, Kairos, Centaur, Tzadik, and New Amsterdam labels. Mr. Greenberg is an award-winning record producer, and has completed discs for major domestic and international labels. He is the director of the International Contemporary Ensemble's in-house TUNDRA imprint. As a composer, he makes recorded pieces with spoken and sung texts. His podcast, Intégrales, explores meaningful intersections of music and daily city life.

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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