Thursday 25th January, 1.10pm at the Helen Martin Studio, Warick Arts Centre: The fantastic George Barton (percussion) and Siwan Rhys (piano) shall be performing my piece 'Saida Portraits'. I'm delighted that they have decided to bring it to life once more: I originally wrote the piece for them in 2014 as part of the New Dots concert series which brought emerging composers and performers together to create exciting new contemporary performances. Their lunchtime concert promises to be a fascinating one, also featuring music by Reich, Skempton and John Luther Adams. www.gbsr.co.uk/concerts
Friday 25th August-Sunday 27th August, with the invaluable support of Naoya Yamashita and Takeshi Yoshida at Otomachi Arts Collective, I ran 3 days of R&D, including a test performance of 'THE鍵KEY' : a new site-specific, dramatic musical work (currently in progress) I am composing and directing.
It was such an incredibly exciting experience (and an honour!) to work with 12 inspirational and fantastic performers from diverse fields, to have the privilege to work once more with Alex Rutter (director of Whole Hog Theatre, working as choreographer on this project) and to have access to Tokyo University of the Arts (Senju Campus) and the beautiful venue, Nakacho House.
I have learnt far more than I can currently process from this R&D: Many things worked really well, some not at all, I came to realise my strengths and weaknesses, the amount of ideas coming from everyone involved and from the audience's feedback was dizzying and exciting-there seems to be around 100 different ways this project could progress and develop!
And that is what will happen next: progression and development. Ready for Tokyo performances in May 2018, aiming for UK performances soon after...Watch this space!
The amazing performers:
The Husband trio: Takashi Matsudaira (Baritone) Jin Rei (shakuhachi) Yukiko Siina (double bass)
The Wife trio: Akane Kudo (soprano) Atsumi Kojima (sho) Yuri Kubota (cello)
The Daughter trio: Yu Igarashi (mezzo-soprano/actress) Mikako Ogawa (kotsutsumi and shimedaiko: Japanese percussion) Kyouju Hiyakawa (violin)
Kimura, The Lover trio: Rikki Metsugi (dancer) Kumiko Shuto (Biwa) Hiroko Miyake (clarinet)
A busy first half of 2017 has led to a very, very much delayed News blogpost! Here's the basics:
January 2017: Music and soundscapes for Whole Hog Theatre's new adaptation of ''トリスタンとイゾルデ' (Tristan and Isolde), sponsored by Nelke Planning ( ネルケプランニング), produced by Gorch Brothers (ゴーチ ブラブラザーズ) and supported by The Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation Scholarship Programme, performed at the DDD Aoyama Theatre in Shibuya, Tokyo from January 12-15, 2017. Many thanks to Alexandra Rutter at WHT for asking me to collaborate; it was a fantastic experience and a joy to work with fellow composer Mark Choi on the project.
February 2017: ボナンで笙( Bonang de sho) for Makoto Nomura and 千住だじゃれ音楽祭 (Senju Dajare Onagaku improvisors group) and Shin Sakuma, dancer. Originally written for 笙 (sho), 5 bonang, melodicas (as many as possible) and free instrumentation. Premiered by Senju Dajare Ongaku at Tokyo Geidai University Kita Senju Campus, Tokyo, 19th February 2017. Illustrated score designed and created by Senju Dajare Ongaku member and artist, Takuya Kohiyama.
March 2017: Graduation from the Daiwa Scholarship Programme. I can't stress enough what an amazing experience the past 18 months with Daiwa have been, filled with incredible opportunities and wonderful people. I shall be enternally grateful and am filled with energy and dertimination for my next steps...
From April 2017: Development of a site-specific, chamber opera: 'The Key' (鍵). This has been a dream of mine for many years and now I am finally being bold and brave and developing my passion project! Performances shall be held in Tokyo in May 2018, with a view of also bringing it to the UK. Watch this space for more news on it's development!
Also in April, I began working as an Assistant Music Therapist with NPO Kokoro Talk Music; providing music therapy sessions to individuals and groups of all ages and abilities across the area of Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. I am very grateful to be a part of this NPO, to be gaining hands-on music therapy experience and to be learning from leaders in the field.
And also looking ahead; 'T&I' for E♭ clarinet and piano, commissioned by Paul Vowles, shall be performed in August 2017, Sherborne, Dorset, UK. More details to follow.
I am very pleased to announce I shall be performing with 日本雅楽会 (Nihon gagakukai - The Japan Gagaku Society) on Friday 18th November at the National Theatre of Japan, Tokyo! I shall be performing within the ensemble on an instrument called the 'sho' (笙） which I have been studying with the society, under the tutelage of Iwanami sensei, for the past few months. I'm incredibly excited to be able to take part in the performance with the ensemble of ancient court music (the music is at least 1000 years old!) and feel so fortunate and amazed to be participating in an ensemble and learning an instrument which I heard many years ago and that has influenced some of my work, particularly Waves on the Ebb for chamber ensemble (2010). Many thanks to everyone at 日本雅楽会 for this wonderful experience (and for their patience!)
Very excited to be performing my piece 'Kagi' for flute/piccolo and piano with the fantastic musician Kumiko Shuto (piano and biwa) as part of her lunchtime concert on Sunday 6th November at Karura Hall, Tokyo. We shall also be performing a semi-improvised piece for flute and biwa and Kumiko shall be performing important works from the biwa repertoire in the first half and Chopin Etudes Op.10-No.12 and Op.25-No.11 in the second half. More information can be found here
I'm happy to announce a video of Akane Kudo giving a dramatic performance of my piece 'Trohmos' for soprano, percussion and electronics in her August 2016 concert can be seen here. Many thanks go to Akane Kudo (soprano) and Arima Sumihisa (electronics) for their wonderful work.
Next week, Soprano Akane Kudo shall be including my piece 'Trohmos' for Soprano, percussion and Fixed Electronics in her very exciting soprano and electronics concert, 'Socrates and Electronics' with Arima Sumihisa at Suginami Koukaido concert hall! As it will be the first time for me to have a piece performed in Japan, I am understandably highly anticipating it! The concert will feature work by distinguished composers, Kaija Saariaho, Toshi Ichiyanagi, John Cage and Eric Satie.
Akane Kudo presents 'Socrates and Electronics' Thursday 18th August, 7pm, Suginami Koukaido, Tokyo.
I'm incredibly pleased to announce that after about 8 months of living in Japan, I am now starting to create a musical life here! By that I mean, I have managed to make some space in my brain to compose once again (learning Japanese has been taking up a lot of the space!) and I have concerts on the horizon:
Commission for Shakuhachi and Biwa Duo: I have been commissioned by Kumiko Shuto (Biwa) and Kifu Mitsuhashi (shakuhachi) to collaborate on a new piece for them to perform in a lecture concert in the Czech Republic whilst they tour Toru Takemitsu's "November Steps" in June, 2016. A fantastic opportunity and a huge learning curve, for which I am incredibly grateful. The piece is currently in progress; it is in 3 movements and shall be titled "Blood, Bile and Breath". More information to come soon!
"Trohmos" to be performed by soprano Akane Matsudaira: My piece "Trohmos" for soprano, percussion and fixed electronics shall be performed by Akane Matsudaira in August, 2016. Akane-san has curated a concert of soprano and electronics works along with Sumihisa Arima (electronics). She is a fascinating performer and I am very excited to see her take on my piece!
Concert with Kumiko Shuto: I shall also have the opportunity to perform with Kumiko-san in concert in November, 2016. Kumiko-san is also an accomplished pianist and has curated a concert of biwa works and piano works. In the first half of the concert, we shall perform a new piece for flute and biwa and in the second half we shall perform my piece 'Kagi' for flute/piccolo and biwa. This will be "Kagi"'s premier; perhaps quite fitting as the piece is inspired by the work of the Japanese author, Junichiro Tanizaki.
Participation in Senju Dajare Community Music Group: In February, I had the good fortune to meet Makoto Nomura and be invited to take part in his Senju Dajare Community Music band - a group of professional and non-professional musicians based in Tokyo who regularly give concerts that engage with local and international communities. I took part in their concert in February which presented the work they had recently done in Thailand, creating an opera with children, and hope to be involved in future projects.
I am delighted to announce that I have been selected by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation for their 2015 Daiwa Scholar programme, enabling me to study and work in Tokyo for the next 19 months! I, along with 5 other young professionals in diverse fields, will be studying Japanese at Naganuma school, an international school for the study of Japanese for 1 year, followed by a month homestay and a 6 month work placement in our chosen fields. The aim of the scholarship is to "offer young and talented UK citizens with strong leadership potential, the opportunity to acquire Japanese language skills, and to access expertise and knowledge relevant to their career goals."
Since I have had a strong interest in (particularly traditional) Japanese culture for many years and have been influenced by certain aspects of Japanese literature, music and aesthetics in my own compositions, I felt it was about time I spent a significant amount of time in the country, learning the language and engaging with the culture. I am determined to learn at least one traditional Japanese instrument (shakuhachi and biwa are high up my list!) and will spend my work placement in the fields of composition and music in a community and theraputic setting. Excited doesn't even cover it! I shall document my experiences in a separate blog: FRANJAPAN - the link can be found above.
In other news, Gavin Osborn shall be performing my piece 'Far From Arcadia' for flute and fixed media at the RMA Conference, University of Birmingham, Eldar Concert Hall, Wednesday 9th September as part of the Trio Atem concert. Looking forward to it!
Sounds of the Engine House shall be giving an exciting concert on Friday 5th June at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation which shall feature my piece 'Adaptations' which won the 2014 Composition Competition. There will also be new pieces by SOTEH members Ben Gaunt and David Curington, music by emerging composers from New Zealand's SMP Ensemble and _scape and they will joined in some fantastic playing by my good friend, Leanne Cody. Come on down!
The electronics in the piece were produced during my residency at EMS in Stockholm in 2014 and also during a short residency at NOVARS, University of Manchester in June 2015. Many thanks go to Ricardo Climent for making this possible!
I am delighted to announce that after a very engaging and successful workshop with Sounds of the Engine House last month, I have been selected as the winner of the Composition Award 2014! This means that I shall develop a piece for the ensemble to be performed in their 2015 season, very exciting! To see more about the ensemble, award and the fantastic pieces the other two composers (Andrew Crossley and Yfat Soul Zisso), visit the SOTEH website. A recording of my work-in-progress can be found on my 'composition' page, titled 'Adaptations'. It includes some electronics that I developed during my residency at EMS in August 2014.