The highlights of last year were the release of Irodrio’s CD Trio Concertante, the CD launch concert, my appearance at the Composer Workshop during the Chofu International Music Festival, and the first performance of Berceuse. I have talked about all these events in blog posts. However, away from public view, the other big news was the completion of Sinfonia Concertante and the negotiations regarding its first performance.
Sinfonia Concertante is about the events that ended my playing days as an amateur violinist, and overcoming that major setback in my life. Ever since I started composing in my teens, I have known that I could not consider my music catalogue to be “complete” until it contained a violin concerto. Sinfonia Concertante is a 33-minute double violin concerto and ticks that box. Since completing it in August, I have lost all energy to compose. The autumn term at university is always busy as I supervise graduation and master’s theses to completion, but I cannot blame being busy in “the day job”. I poured my heart and soul into my lifetime ambition of writing a violin concerto. Having achieved it, my inspiration and energy levels collapsed.
The premiere will (hopefully!) be in 2025, but for now there is an “in-between” period. It is always hard to compose new pieces when there is a backlog of unperformed pieces. It feels like I should be putting my energy into organizing concerts rather than writing more music. And the harder I have to work to get performances, the more I think, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could play them myself?” But given the events that ended my playing career back in 2000, I have not given performing again much serious consideration, until recently …
On a brief visit to the UK for work last summer I took my violin out of the closet at my parents’ house where it had languished for the previous 20 years, and brought it back to Japan with me. Of course, it looked and sounded very neglected. Into the autumn, I started thinking it would be good if I could write some manageable pieces that would allow me to become a composer-performer again, even if in a very limited way. As I have discussed in a previous blog, the composer-performer has always been the heart and soul of classical music for me. It would feel like a return to fundamental principles.
With strong resolve, therefore, I have taken my long-neglected violin to the repair shop for a complete overhaul. I have also toyed with the idea of some pieces I could play on the piano, and I hope this will happen one day. But at heart I have always been a violinist, so I will start there. Until Sinfonia Concertante gets a little closer to its first performance, I will put my energy into becoming reacquainted with the violin and clearing the backlog of unperformed pieces. My main ambition for 2024, however, is to write a piece that I can perform in a concert, and to face the audience as a composer-performer for the first time since 1993.
28 January 2024