Okeanos Breeze


This piece is particularly special to me, because it was the first time I ever wrote for Japanese traditional instruments. You may think that, because I look Japanese, I must have been listening to these instruments since I was born. But the truth is, I had never seen and hardly ever even heard them until I went to a concert at the Darmstadt summer school when I was 20 years old. Since then I have been fascinated with writing for these instruments, and a few years later I was delighted when Ensemble Okeanos asked me to write for them.

I remember that the composition progressed very smoothly and I had great fun studying the instruments. Both the sho and the koto suited me very well and inhabited my imagination very naturally. For instance, I usually hate vibrato, and the sho does not use vibrato. I also enjoy the sound of harsh attacks and they are very easy to achieve on the koto. Okeanos Breeze was commissioned to celebrate Japan 2001 and was performed in parallel with the Textural Space textile exhibition. I was asked to complete the piece at such short notice that I did not dwell much on all that clichéd “crossing-the-border”, “east-meets-west” rubbish that I see in a lot of publicity material for performances using Japanese instruments. I was born in Japan but I spent my crucial teenage years in the UK and feel myself to be an equal mix of both cultures.

(c) Dai Fujikura

Continuum performed the Canadian Premiere of Okeanos Breeze as part of Japan:NEXT, May 26, 2016 at The Royal Conservator.

Dai Fujikura JP/UK

Although Dai Fujikura was born in Osaka, he has now spent more than 20 years in the UK where he studied composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Daryl Runswick and George Benjamin. During the last decade he has been the recipient of numerous prizes, including Kazimierz Serocki International Composers’ Competition 1998 and a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in UK, Internationaler Wiener Composition Prize, the Paul Hindemith Prize in Austria and Germany respectively and both the OTAKA and Akutagawa awards in 2009.

A quick glance at his list of commissions and performances reveals he is fast becoming a truly international composer. His music is not only performed in the country of his birth or his adopted home, but is now performed in venues as geographically diverse as Caracas and Oslo, Venice and Schleswig-Holstein, Lucerne and Paris.

In his native Japan he has been accorded the special honour of a portrait concert in Suntory Hall in October 2012. In London where he chooses to live with his wife and family, he has now received two BBC Proms commissions, his Double Bass Concerto was recently premiered by the London Sinfonietta and in 2013 the BBC Symphony Orchestra gave the UK premiere of Atom as part of the "Total Immersion: Sounds from Japan".

Conductors with whom he has worked include Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Jonathan Nott, Gustavo Dudamel, the newly-appointed conductor of the Suisse Romande, Kazuki Yamada and Alexander Liebreich. His compositions are increasingly the product of international co-commissions. In 2012/13 the Seattle and Bamberg Symphony will each give continental premieres of Mina for wind a percussion soloists and orchestra and the Asian premiere will be given by Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2011/12 the Arditti Quartet performed flare in collaborating venues in London, Edinburgh and Tokyo. His opera, which is based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel, Solaris, will be co-produced in both France and Switzerland.

For more information about Dai Fujikura, click here.

Dai Fujikura