Video Premiere: Haruka Fujii performs “Shimmer” and “Sparkle” by Vivian Fung

The directness of expression in the music of Vivian Fung makes it immediately engaging, and her two new pieces for solo percussion present a stripped-down alternative to her orchestral works that also employ percussion — like the churning and swelling Parade.

We’re excited to premiere the videos for “Shimmer” and “Sparkle,” filmed by Matt Carr and performed by percussionist Haruka Fujii. Commissioned by the San Francisco-based, women-led organization Ensemble for These Times, the short pieces are mostly performed on household objects, including water bowls, porcelain mugs, mortars, and cups of different sizes.

“Shimmer” is the slower, more contemplative of the two — Fujii strikes the inside of the water bowls with yarn mallets and lets each note ring out, the overtones ebbing away in waves. This is contrasted with faster rhythmic patterns on the higher pitched objects, struck with chopsticks.

“Sparkle” is the rowdier companion piece. Five bowls of different sizes are complemented by a kick drum and a set of bells; Fujii picks up the pace and crisscrosses between each set, as a thoroughly engaging miniature piece for solo percussion takes shape.

Vivian Fung -- Photo by Geneviève Caron

Vivian Fung — Photo by Geneviève Caron

Here is what Vivian has to say about “Shimmer” and “Sparkle”:

Composed for one percussionist, “Shimmer” and “Sparkle” explore the beauty of mostly found objects: the instrumentation of “Shimmer” simply says “four very high resonant porcelain or metal objects and three very low metal or glass objects,” giving the percussionist the liberty to experiment and play. “Sparkle” features the low instrument of a homemade kick drum and lower metal everyday objects to act as a foil to high porcelain sparkling notes.

About Vivian Fung

Vivian Fung’s 2023/24 season begins with the world premiere of a work commissioned by the “Ligeti Etudes meets 18 Composers” project, which celebrates the centenary of composer György Ligeti with original works for solo piano by 18 handpicked composers. A second world premiere, Ominous Machine, for piano trio, will be unveiled in a performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. A portrait album featuring the Jasper String Quartet in Fung’s first four string quartets is due for an October 2023 release on Sono Luminus, with a release performance on October 17. The world premiere of “Songs for the Next Generation,” a collaboration with Jasper String Quartet, tenor Nicholas Phan, and pianist Myra Huang, will make its premiere in May 2024 at the Kaufman Center in New York City. The work takes inspiration from Claire Wahmanholm’s poem “O,” a piercing look at the fragile state of the earth and our environment.

About Haruka Fujii

Multi-percussionist Haruka Fujii has won international acclaim for her interpretation of contemporary music and commissioned and performed numerous premiere works from luminary living composers. Since 2010 Ms. Fujii has performed as an artist of the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble, joining a group of international musicians founded by Yo-Yo Ma, also serves as one of the artistic leadership team alongside with the artistic director Rhiannon Giddens. She has appeared as a soloist with major orchestras including San Francisco Symphony, the Munich Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Nationale de Lyon and the NHK Symphony Orchestra. She also performs as a member of San Francisco Contemporary Players, the New York based Line C3 Percussion Group, and Utari Percussion Duo — a project with her sister Rika Fujii. Her recordings can be found on the SONY, Kosei, ALM Records and Deutsche Grammophon labels. In addition to her career as a performing artist, Ms. Fujii recently joined the percussion faculty of San Francisco Conservatory of Music and has been a frequent guest instructor at Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar.

About Ensemble for These Times

Winners of the American Prize in 2021 for Chamber Music Performance, SF-based Ensemble for These Times (E4TT) consists of soprano/Artistic Executive Director Nanette McGuinness, cellist Abigail Monroe, pianist Margaret Halbig, and Senior Artistic Advisor/SF Conservatory of Music faculty/composer David Garner. E4TT focuses on 20th- and 21st-century music that is relevant, engaging, original and compelling — music that resonates with today and speaks to tomorrow, that harnesses the power of artistic beauty, intelligence, wit, lyricism, and irony to create a deep understanding of our times and the human condition. Women creators are an ongoing primary focus. E4TT has commissioned 41 new works, performed internationally at the Krakow Culture Festival (2016 and 2022), Conservatorio Teresa Berganza in Madrid (2017), and on a four-city Hungarian tour (2014) sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. The group made its international debut in Berlin (2012) and has released four award-winning albums.


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