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

Flutist and vocalist Alice Teyssier brings “something new, something fresh, but also something uncommonly beautiful” to her performances. A uniquely gifted advocate for new music, Alice has given residencies for composers and performers of new music at such universities as Harvard, Brown, Stanford, Huddersfield, Oberlin and U. Michigan. She has premiered hundreds of works and appeared at the Ojai, Mostly Mozart, June in Buffalo, Big Ears, Resonant Bodies and Huddersfield Contemporary Music festivals. Equally devoted to historically-informed yet inventive performances of early music, she is co-founder of the chamber ensemble La Perla Bizzarra. Alice serves as Clinical Assistant Professor of Performance in the Music Department at NYU.

The Rhythm Method

Praised as “fierce, fearless, and virtuosic… unapologetically stylistically omnivorous and versatile” (New Music Box) and “trailblazing...skillful composer-performers” (The New Yorker), The Rhythm Method strives to reimagine the string quartet in a contemporary, feminist context. The four performer-composers of The Rhythm Method continually expand their sonic and expressive palette through the use of improvisation, vocalization, graphic notation, songwriting, and theater.

The Rhythm Method has given performances at Roulette, Joe’s Pub, The Stone, the Met Museum, the Morris Museum, and the Noguchi Museum, and has been featured at the Lucerne Festival Forward, on the String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s String Theories Festival, MATA Festival, Music Mondays, TriBeCa New Music, and the Austrian Cultural Forum’s Moving Sounds Festival. The quartet tours regularly both in the US and abroad, and has performed internationally in France, Austria, and Switzerland. The Rhythm Method seeks to nurture ongoing relationships with universities and schools, cultivating multifaceted creativity and musicianship in students of all ages. They have been in residence at Tulane University, Arkansas State University, Zurich University for Art and Music, Hunter College, Bowling Green State University’s College of Musical Arts, and New York University, and they serve as the quartet-in-residence for Lake George Music Festival’s Composers Institute.

This season’s highlights include premieres of new works by inti figgis-vizueta and Victoria Cheah, the release of an album featuring Lewis Nielson’s “Pastorale.......para los pobres de la tierra” for vocalizing string quartet with guest vocalist/flutist Alice Teyssier, performing on the Ukrainian Contemporary Music Festival, collaborating with the Mosaic Composers' Collective, and appearing as ensemble in residence at the Iceberg Institute and Lake George Music Festival's Composers Institute.

The Rhythm Method’s ongoing activities include the Hidden Mothers Project, a programming initiative that highlights works by historical women composers, and Broad Statements, an annual mini-festival celebrating creative music-making by women, non-binary, and gender-expansive people in a wide array of artistic styles.

In March 2022, the quartet released their self-titled debut album, featuring music by all of the quartet members, on Gold Bolus Recordings. Other releases include the 2021 “A Few Concerns,” an album of cellist-singer-songwriter Meaghan Burke’s music, on Gold Bolus Recordings, and the group’s signature Wandelweiser Christmas arrangements, volumes I and II. The Rhythm Method’s recording of “Silence Seeking Solace” (with soprano Alice Teyssier) was featured on Dai Fujikura’s “Chance Monsoon” (SONY Japan).

International Contemporary Ensemble

With a commitment to cultivating a more curious and engaged society through music, the International Contemporary Ensemble – as a commissioner and performer at the highest level – amplifies creators whose work propels and challenges how music is made and experienced. The Ensemble’s 39 members are featured as soloists, chamber musicians, commissioners, and collaborators with the foremost musical artists of our time. Works by emerging composers have anchored the Ensemble’s programming since its founding in 2001, and the group’s recordings and digital platforms highlight the many voices that weave music’s present.

Acclaimed as “America’s foremost new-music group” (The New Yorker), the Ensemble has become a leading force in new music throughout the last 20 years, having premiered over 1,000 works and having been a vehicle for the workshop and performance of thousands of works by student composers across the U.S. The Ensemble’s composer-collaborators—many who were unknown at the time of their first Ensemble collaboration—have fundamentally shaped its creative ethos and have continued to highly visible and influential careers, including MacArthur Fellow Tyshawn Sorey; long-time Ensemble collaborator, founding member, and 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun; and the Ensemble’s founder, 2012 MacArthur Fellow, and first-ever flutist to win Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Prize, Claire Chase.

A recipient of the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the International Contemporary Ensemble was also named Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year in 2014. The group has served as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival (2008-2020), Ojai Music Festival (2015-17), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2010-2015). In addition, the Ensemble has presented and performed at festivals in the U.S. such as Big Ears Festival and Opera Omaha’s ONE Festival, as well as abroad, including GMEM-Centre National de Création Musicale (CNCM) de Marseille, Vértice at Cultura UNAM, Warsaw Autumn, International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, and Cité de la Musique in Paris. Other performance stages have included the Park Avenue Armory, ice floes at Greenland’s Diskotek Sessions, Brooklyn warehouses, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and boats on the Amazon River.

The International Contemporary Ensemble advances music technology and digital communications as an empowering tool for artists from all backgrounds. Digitice provides high-quality video documentation for artist-collaborators and provides access to an in-depth archive of composers’ workshops and performances. The Ensemble regularly engages new listeners through free concerts and interactive, educational programming with lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Curricular activities include a partnership at The New School’s College of Performing Arts (CoPA), along with a summer intensive program, called Ensemble Evolution, where topics of equity, diversity, and inclusion build new bridges and pathways for the future of creative sound practices. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for the Ensemble. Read more at www.iceorg.org and watch over 350 videos of live performances and documentaries at www.digitice.org.

The International Contemporary Ensemble’s performances and commissioning activities during the 2023-24 concert season are made possible by the generous support of the Ensemble’s board, many individuals, as well as the Mellon Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Aaron Copland Fund for Music Inc., Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, The Cheswatyr Foundation, Amphion Foundation, The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, New Music USA’s Organizational Development Fund, Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, BMI Foundation, as well as public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The International Contemporary Ensemble was the Ensemble in Residence of the Nokia Bell Labs Experiments in Art and Technology from 2018-2021. Yamaha Artist Services New York is the exclusive piano provider for the International Contemporary Ensemble.


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