In my mind this began as piece for solo cello, electronics and small ensemble, perhaps a kind of sequel to Flame, an earlier work for violin and electronics. That gave me the name Ember, an afterglow, but still burning. Later, while working on the piece in depth, I realised (to my surprise in fact) that it was somehow to be a piece in memory of my friend Ryuko Mizutani, a virtuoso koto-ist who died from cancer some years ago.

It might seem a little odd to compose a piece in memory of someone after such a gap of time; perhaps stranger still that the piece has seemingly little to do with koto music, or any of the myriad of different musics in which Ryuko immersed herself. (In fact to represent her in music would be a formidable task!) But Ryuko was my friend, and as time has passed, an ongoing inspiration to me as a musician whose discipline and technique were matched by a quiet determination to overcome her personal boundaries. In honour of that spirit I've tried to make a piece of similar (mostly quiet) determination; music which struggles (though perhaps failing) to embody what Morton Feldman called "a total commitment to our uniqueness".

But perhaps it's simply a product of the strange navigations we take through paths of grief. (Music as memorial is a comfort for the living!) I admit her death shook me, the news coming just before I was to revisit the place where we had met. From time to time on that trip I'd come across someone who had known her, and we would pause, mention Ryuko, lower our gazes, remember. Periodically since her death she has appeared in my dreams, telling me this or that. In one dream I remembered that she was gone, and told her that I loved her, that I was so glad she'd been in the world, and that I hoped that she knew that. On waking I thought, was it true? Were we such friends, or does remembrance just make me wish it were so? And did she know?

Premiered by Continuum February 10, 2013

Scott Wilson CA

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Scott Wilson has studied with Barry Truax, Christos Hatzis, Gary Kulesha, Ron Kuivila, Wolfgang Rihm, David Gordon Duke and Owen Underhill, among others. He has written works for orchestra, electroacoustics, chamber ensemble, installations, multimedia, interactive and inter-inactive presentations.  His works have been performed in Canada, the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland, in festivals and venues such as the Huddersfield Festival, Esprit Orchestra's Next Wave Festival, Open Ears, Canada's National Arts Centre and Inventionen. Recent collaborators include Darragh Morgan, rarescale and Xenia Pestova. Scott’s music has been recorded by 326music and Continuum Contemporary Music.  Scott now lives in Birmingham, UK, teaching at the University, working with BEAST, and life, generally speaking, is good.

For more information about Scott Wilson, click here.

Scott Wilson