|Miya Masaoka and Koto (with bow and electronics)|
Miya Masaoka: A few years ago, I was interviewed by Vijay Iyer under the auspices of JCOI.
ACO: What inspired you to compose the piece that you submitted to JCOI?
MM: Working with the large forces of an orchestra has always been a dream of mine, and it has proved to be enormously challenging and already rewarding, even without hearing the piece. Writing for a symphony orchestra, I had to think differently about instruments, and rethink texture and density of sound, and quality, timbre of sound, what is possible and what isn’t. In other words, everything I knew was WRONG, and I had to turn my brain and soul inside out. I feel like I have been through a wrecking ball tunnel, but have survived and come out the other end.
MM: I have been answering a few email questions from the conductor and some of the orchestra section leaders.
MM: I can’t wait I think I will learn about a real practical side to writing for an orchestra. And hearing my ideas being realized is such an honor, such a fabulous, life-changing opportunity.
MM: I’m more familiar writing for smaller ensembles, of course, so the challenges have to do with the element of rehearsal time. There is very little rehearsal time with an orchestra, so any confusion or questions about the score must hopefully be resolved before hand via email. But on the other hand, why write a piece, if it’s not going to be interesting, and it’s not going to be something different and new? But it can’t be THAT DIFFERENT and THAT new so that there would be too much to explain to the orchestra players, since there is so little rehearsal time. A real balance has to be struck. A chamber musician and an orchestral musician can be as different as apples and oranges.
MM: I have only worked with a symphony as a guest performer on the Japanese koto, notably with the Berkeley Symphony, and two other symphonies on the West Coast.
ACO: What would you like to say to other jazz composers who may be interested in applying to JCOI?
MM: Please apply, because if you don’t apply, you won’t have any chance of winning. IF you apply, even if you don’t get it, you might get inspired to enter other competitions for readings.
MM: I hope they find it interesting and different, and that they would want to hear more of what this composer does.