Wigmore Hall will feature the music of composer Dai Fujikura this weekend as part of its Avex Recital Series, as a talented group of musicians from around the world join together to bring the Japanese composer’s works to life. In this guest blog, Fujikura gives an introduction to his works and reflects on their global influence ahead of the London concert.
Wigmore Hall was somewhere I walked past every day for four years as a student studying at the music college right around the corner. It’s THE best chamber music hall in the world. I’ve lost count how many times I have heard the concerts there!
Two of my string quartets, Deconstructing Franz and Flare, which were both commissioned by Wigmore Hall, are works that are now widely played around the world. Just last month, I walked into Tokyo Opera City to hear my Piano Concerto No2 played by Mei Yi Foo, who will be performing several works at the upcoming Wigmore Hall concert on the piano and toy piano. When I was looking at a poster of the future concert there, I found the string quartet playing Flare and was just told that this concerto will be played in Israel next month! It is such a joyous moment when these things happen. I feel my works have their own lives, collaborating with wonderful musicians in places without me even knowing.
After forming my own record label, I started collaborating with SONY, and have just finished composing Piano Concerto No3 for pianist Yu Kosuge, whose SONY Beethoven albums I have been a big fan of for years. Yu and I became friends after finding out that we were both Nintendo game fanatics (Dragon Quest, to be precise) – in fact, we were once asked to leave a Korean BBQ restaurant for singing the music of the game so loudly! Prior to composing a piano concerto for her, she commissioned me to write a quintet, GO, for her tour. I am so happy that we can bring this quintet, with the original members who toured the piece, to Wigmore Hall as part of the Avex Classics Recital Series.
One of my most performed works is SAKANA for Tenor Saxophone, which was commissioned by Masanori Oishi and reflects my obsession with ‘swarming’. This piece, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary since its world premiere this year, is one of the entrance exam pieces to get into the saxophone class at the Paris Conservatoire. Masanori often said, “If you can play SAKANA, no need to attend the class!” One evening when I was walking in Paris with a friend, we bumped into two people who were also out and walking – because they were sick of listening to their roommates practicing this piece. “You wrote that piece?”, they said with an expression with total annoyance.
The Avex Classics Recital Series launches in 2018 with this concert of my works, including Neo for Shamisen, a traditional Japanese instrument. I only knew this instrument from cheesy background music in sushi restaurants, so I’ve had to collaborate with shamisen player Hidejiro Honjoh on a daily basis to learn how the instrument works. It has been an incredibly fruitful collaboration, as I send every bar I compose to him, he records the music into a smartphone, and then sends the recording back. I hear there is an American guitarist who is trying to play this piece on electric guitar, so I am looking forward to hearing what would that sounds like!
The slate of musicians who will perform in the Dai Fujikura Portrait concert is like a concert version of one of those movies that star all of the superheroes. Musicians from literally all over the world are flying in from Asia and Europe to take part. The upcoming concert will be a true example of an event without any borders – just new sound and deep friendship.
Dai Fujikura Portrait will take place at Wigmore Hall on 17 February.