The world premiere of Shiori Usui’s Pya-ryu
for solo clarinet and orchestra marked the close of a series of compositions commissioned in the framework of RicordiLab 2016. Alexander Muhr and the orchestra of the Staatstheater Cottbus under Alexander Merzyn provided a visionary performance of the work, plumbing the extreme heights and depths of the clarinet’s range with great imagination. Looking for a "sound that meanders along a path of 'noise' and 'pitch'", Shiori Usui "explores quarter-notes" and "obsessive repetitions and the
sudden changes of musical ideas" (Shiori Usui). She divulges more about the piece in our interview with her.
for solo clarinet and orchestra
cl - 220.127.116.11 - 18.104.22.168 - str
WP: 4.5.2018, Cottbus
World premiere of Pya-ryu, Cottbus 2018
Interview with the composer
What inspired you to compose a concerto for the clarinet?
The commission provided me an opportunity to work closely with the clarinetist Alexander Muhr. However, the music is for orchestra and solo clarinet rather than a clarinet concerto.
What role has the soloist of the premiere played in the work’s creation?
I explained a number of different kinds of sound I wanted to use in the piece, and he experimented on his instrument based on my ideas. He also advised me for notating some new techniques from a performer’s point of view, which was very useful. I really love this kind of close collaboration with performers and I hope I will have many more opportunities to work like this in the future.
In the programme booklet you deliberately leave the interpretation of Pya-ryu to the listener. What does the piece mean to you personally?
To me, “Pya-ryu” is an intimate, free-spirited and playful piece.
Your clarinet concerto concludes the three RicordiLab 2016 commissions. What tips can you offer aspiring young composers toying with the idea of applying to RicordiLab?
I would highly recommend to apply for it!
I live in Scotland, where a majority of people did not vote for Brexit (laughs), and it has provided me some great opportunities to connect with the music world in continental Europe. Also, I feel that Ricordi is like a family. They are an open, honest, passionate and highly dedicated group of people. They are always very quick to respond, and provide you with very practical and helpful advice on promotion of works, some notating questions etc.
What are you planning to compose next?
I’m just finishing a composition for piano for four hands, which will be premiered on 28th June at Kettle’s Yard Gallery in Cambridge, UK. After this, I will be composing for a street orchestra, which consists of young musicians who play music outside the normal music venues, such as train stations, swimming pools, and care homes. Then I will also compose a piece for choir and brass next year.
Photos: Fabio Bracarda/Metalli (Usui), Marlies Kross (Pya-ryu)