Fujikura: new orchestra work Glorious Clouds

Fujikura: new orchestra work Glorious Clouds

Out of his fascination with microorganisms and inspired by their world, Dai Fujikura has created a new work for orchestra in which free-floating sounds awaken the impression of microbes flying about – the work itself becomes a “microorganism orchestra”, as Fujikura describes it. Glorious Clouds was performed as the finale of a concert featuring Japanese composers on 2 November 2018 by the Cologne Radio (WDR) Symphony Orchestra under Peter Eötvös. It was given again a day later by the same forces in the Essen Philharmonie as part of the “Now! form per form” festival. On 29 January 2019, Glorious Clouds will have its French premiere at the Philharmonie de Paris, with Jamie Phillips conducting the Orchestre national d’Île-de-France.

Glorious Clouds (2017)

for orchestra - - 3perc.timp - str
Duration: 16'
WP: 02.11.2018, Cologne


02.11.2018 (WP)
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Peter Eötvös (cond), Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne

WDR Symphony Orchestra, Peter Eötvös (cond), Now! form per form, Philharmonie Essen

29.01.2019 (NP)
Orchestre national d'Île-de-France, Jamie Phillips (cond), Philharmonie de Paris

28.05.2019 (NP)
NHK Symphony Orchestra, Josep Pons (cond)Tokyo Opera City

Watch the full performance

About the work

It was really hard to compose this work. One day I was reading an article in a magazine about microbiomes and I was extremely interested to know more about them.  Thus began my research on this subject. Microorganisms live not only in the intestines but also on the skin. In fact microorganisms live everywhere on the earth. Because of the amazing network of microorganisms that are everywhere, animals including us, humans, can survive. I read that some insects can be made to commit suicide by microorganisms (if certain bacteria require water to breed, they will infect the insect which cannot survive in water, force it to suddenly fall into the water; the insect dies instantly but the bacteria will start to breed happily in the water). It is true that we are controlled by microorganisms.

Also, I read the benefits of microbes and animals are great. For example, microorganisms are essential for digestion and absorption in our body, and it seems that some of the vitamins that we cannot synthesize in the body may be produced by microorganisms. When I read these articles, I thought that "Ah!!! Various small microorganisms are making the whole world, that is just like an orchestra itself!" So I started composing.To compose this work, I continued to read a lot of books and papers on this topic, both in English and in Japanese. I even contacted the writers of some of the clinical studies I had found on Twitter. The researchers seemed to be surprised that music composers were reading their papers! Ultimately, I got an opportunity to meet with Dr. Satoshi Omura, who is the Nobel Prize winner for Physiology and Medicine in 2015 for microbiology research. The conversation with him about his studies was quite inspirational. As you might imagine, it took more time to research the subject matter of the work than writing the score!

Glorious Clouds begins with the impression that microorganisms are flying around. . . . That's easy on the sketchpads, but then I have to write all those notes which should sound good to my ear, to design all those many sounds floating around “freely”, but yet to have overall harmonic control and the movement of that was a real challenge for me. As often I do, I composed this work with many interruptions, writing for a few months then stopping to write another composition, then returning.  On and off for about a year or so until I reached the final bar. I hope that this microorganism orchestra will be played a lot all over the world in the future.

Dai Fujikura 

Score of Glorious Clouds