29 May 2020

World Premiere: “Longing From Afar”

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World Premiere: Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 11 AM (MST) on YouTube and Facebook

A tele-performed orchestra version of Dai Fujikura‘s piece “Longing From Afar,” which was recorded while the 22 musicians performed together on video conferencing tool Zoom.

Dai Fujikura, composer and audio engineer
Thierry Fischer, conductor
Utah Symphony
Andrea Peterson, video editor

“As a result of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was considering how all musicians make sound together even when we are all physically far apart…[performing] at home due to lockdown,” said Mr. Fujikura from his home in London, England. “Inspired by this, I designed this work to be performed with a conductor, which is unlike many other open score works. The conductor has a direct influence on the sound of the music working ensemble with other musicians.”

“Part of the beauty of the piece is that our ability to play rhythms together is totally impossible, giving the music a haunting, disconnected feel. Listening to “Longing From Afar” is a spacious, meditative experience. The musicians are striving to be together, and yet Dai’s piece embraces a sense of displacement,” said Principal Keyboard Jason Hardink, who is closely involved in the creative and artistic process behind the project.

Because of lag time and other variables of online platforms like Zoom, the recording of “Longing From Afar” creates a beautiful atmospheric sound that affects the fabric of the music in a fluid, cohesive, and very live way. “It almost sounds like we are playing in a digital echo chamber,” explained Mr. Hardink. “It is an act of reaching, of trying to connect, to play together in rhythm. Fujikura embraces the limitations of physical separation to create poignant and highly expressive music.”

The experience and ethos of the piece is one of contemplation and emotional bonds that reach across physical distance, represented by a community transcending space and distance. The simplicity of this is depicted in the musical and emotional connection achieved between the musicians who are playing together on Zoom while being physically apart.

“As music director what a privilege it was to have a rehearsal working with the musicians of the orchestra and then to record this live with them just three days later,” said Maestro Fischer, from his home in Geneva, Switzerland. “I was thankful that technology was able to put us together to interact at the same time in different places on the planet. To capture a live moment between a music director in Europe and musicians in America creating music together, it was very special for me. I loved it.”

“’Longing from afar’ is my first composition which has some freedom left to the musicians. Also the work celebrates the ‘latency’ of the internet, as it was designed to be tele-performed. All musicians are playing from their own homes, but playing together through the internet. This brings the orchestration to whole new level,” said Mr. Fujikura. “It is so interesting every conductor would shape this work differently, and I am so glad that Thierry and Utah Symphony is the first symphony orchestra to play this work.

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