S(hakuh)achi Ko(nzert)

Solo instrument with orchestra
20 min.
Shakuhachi and orchestra
Date de création

S(hakuh)achi Ko(nzert) - 2016 - 20'

Premiered by Reison Kuroda, shakuhachi solo, and the Royal Philharmonic of Liege conducted by David Reiland - Festival Ars Musica, November 17th (Salle Philharmonique, Liège) and 18th (Bozar, Brussels) 2016.

Commissioned by Festival Ars Musica.

Dedicated to Reison Kuroda and Sachiko Nomura.


About the concerto - Excerpt from an interview by Stéphane Dado (OPRL)

How did Japan become a source of inspiration ?

I'm found of that country for so many years. When i was teenager, i loved to draw Japanese women (their beauty already fascinated me) and musicians. Thanks to a librarian, i was introduced at the same time to contemporary music and the non-European musics. So i discovered the gagaku (a set of traditional musicians of the imperial court of Japan) and other instruments like shamisen, biwa, koto... In 1983, the festival of Wallonia commissioned me a new work in relation with its theme "West-East". The famous Belgian composer, Henri Pousseur, who helped me in my composition studies, came back from Japan at that time. He gave me a book of transcriptions of Japanese traditional songs which i used for my composition "Chant". Since then, i went many time in Japan, especially after i met the pianist Nao Momitani who became my wife.

And about shakuhachi ?

it is a traditional Japanese flute with four holes, outcome of the Buddhist traditions. Because of that spiritual orgin, its music consist on rather slow and meditative works, with an important use of the different qualities of the breath. Sometimes, breath is more important than pitches. Furthermore, I'm also fascinated by the incredible variety of attacks and distorsions of sounds produced by that instrument.

In your music, when you use some elements of Non-European musics, it never sounds as an exotic/folkloristic piece. How do you manage the shakuhachi in that new concerto ?

Indeed, I tried to go out the conventions of writing for such an instrument, avoiding meditative spirit, continuous micro-tonal inflections and glissandi. For sure, these elements could be found in the music of my concerto. But at first i wanted to make a parallel with the dynamism of the today Japan. therefore i composed a very dynamic solo part, creating also bridges between the cultures which interest me. For instance, the shakuhachi part makes reference to the joyful beats of the Indian ragas. Furthermore, the sound of that instrument is completed by the voice of the performer who is using phonemes or spoken words, providing a percussif character to that part, a series of new impulse to the musical speech of the work. Reison Kuroda, who premiered the piece and is also one of the dedicatee, was very enthousiast. He did things he never did on his instrument before, finding finally my music "soooooo groovy !"

Could you explain this strange title, with parenthesis ?

It is a good friend who gave me the idea of this title, the musician Sachiko Nomura. I discussed a lot with her during my stays in Tokyo, about contemporary music, also about philosophy, and the conception of determinism in music and in life. Afterwards, i realized that the letters of her first name could be found on the "germanized" title of the concerto. Therefore, i put parenthesis in order to reveal the name "Sachiko". But that strange title gave me also an idea about the structure of the piece : two parts which correspond to the two words of the title ; the consonants being in relation with some "noisy" and "inharmonic" sections, the vowels with more "harmonic" fields. Finally, i find rather incredible to discuss about determinism with someone  and being able to isolate her first name in a title defined previously... As if by magic !