DAI FUJIKURA – Biography

Dai Fujikura (born 1977)

Born in Osaka, Dai Fujikura came to England when he was 15 and has remained in this country ever since. After leaving Dover College he studied at Trinity College of Music with Daryl Runswick, at first with the intention of becoming a film composer, though exposure to the works of Boulez, Ligeti and Takemitsu changed his mind. A first encounter with Japanese instruments, at Darmstadt in 1997, was also important. He then completed his training with Edwin Roxburgh at the Royal College of Music and George Benjamin at King’s College, London.

While still a student he began to make a mark, notably with Fifth Station (2003–4), the first of several pieces for musicians positioned in different parts of the hall, and a work showing his dramatic command of instrumental gesture and texture. It was performed by the London Sinfonietta in February 2004, and led to important commissions: from the Lucerne Festival (Stream State, 2005, conducted by Boulez), the Donaueschingen Festival (Vast Ocean, a trombone concerto with electronics, 2005) and the BBC Proms (Crushing Twister, 2006).

Identifiable neither as British nor as Japanese, Fujikura has created his own context with his output of almost two hundred works, many of them on a large scale. The chief characteristics of his music include frank expressive immediacy, whether voiced by texture (often interacting textures) or by melody, as well as a sure handling of instruments, alone or in combination, and wide-ranging references, especially to nature and science.

Major works include Solaris, an opera after Stanisław Lem’s novel, using IRCAM resources. This was first performed in Paris in 2015 and has had further productions, making it one of the most widely presented of recent operas. A Dream of Armageddon, after the short story by H.G. Wells, had its premiere in Tokyo in 2020.

Always responding with vim to the challenge of writing for soloists who match his energy, he has produced four piano concertos and others for flute, bassoon, horn, tuba, viola, cello and double bass. He has also featured less regular soloists (recorder, rock guitar) and, recently, players on Japanese instruments (shakuhachi, shamisen, koto).
Scores for films (Listen to the Universe), television and radio need to be mentioned, and a book (in Japanese) whose title carries a nice irony in the light of his packed creative life: Too Early for an Autobiography.

Programme notes and profiles © Paul Griffiths