Under the direction of associate professor of music, E. Michael Richards, "Hirai V," was written by Japanese composer Masataka Matsuo for the Hamilton College Orchestra, Richards and pianist Kazuko Tanosaki, a lecturer in music at Hamilton.
"The opportunity for 45 students of a small liberal arts school to participate in this international project not only separates Hamilton College from other comparable schools, but from most professional schools as well," says Richards.
Richards and the orchestra commissioned "Hirai V" which is a Japanese word that means `come flying,' for a performance at their 1992 Japanese music symposium at Hamilton, which was conducted by Matsuo. In 1995, Matsuo returned for the annual orchestra concert, which included "Hirai V," and held a recording session as well.
Matsuo graduated from the Tokyo University of Fine Arts in 1984 and was immediately recognized by a number of awards for contemporary composition including the Special Prize at the Japan/France Competition for Contemporary Music in 1985. Tanosaki, born in Japan, was a first prize winner in the 1982 La Jolla Orchestra Young Artist Competition in San Diego. She was educated at the Kunitachi College of Music (B.A.) and received a M.A. in piano performance from the University of California, San Diego. Currently, she is a student in the DMA program in piano performance and literature at the Eastman School of Music.
Richards has premiered over 125 works that have utilized the clarinet at performances throughout the US, Japan, Australia and Western Europe. He has conducted the Hamilton College Orchestra since 1984 when he arrived at Hamilton after a year as Conductor of Instrumental Ensembles at Bowdoin College. He is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, holds master's degrees from Yale University School of Music and Smith College and earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.
The Hamilton College Orchestra was founded in 1970 and has grown to include more than 50 students. The Orchestra has undertaken four concert tours within the last seven years - one by invitation of the governments of Romania and Bulgaria to tour those countries for fourteen days. The Orchestra has performed with internationally renowned contra-bassist Bertram Turetzky; virtuosa performer of the koto, Nanae Yoshimura and commissioned and performed new works for orchestra by Richard Boulanger, Masao Honma, Jay Reise (class of 1972) and Samuel Pellman, professor of music at Hamilton.
The recording was made possible by generous grants from the Office of the President and the Office of Dean of the Faculty.