Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and pursue a career in music?
I hardly remember when I first started to play the piano. I remember that I used to have a red toy piano. My mom bought it when my older sister was born. I grew up playing this toy piano, played some songs which I just learnt by singing. When my grandmother saw me she decided to buy a piano for me.
My family is pretty musical family. My father plays the guitar and sings opera, my mother used to play the Koto (japanese traditional instrument), and my sister played the piano, the clarinet and a bit of the violin. For me it is pretty normal to play some instruments. But I was passionate about the piano and loved the piano’s sound. But also I played percussion in the kids orchestra and played little bit of the violin.
I have always felt passionate about the beauty of piano sound and the piano pieces composed by others. I tried hard and explored how to get better, how to play that sound, how to express music and I enjoyed those processes… I love it and I feel restless if I don’t; so I thought I might as well make it my profession.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Alicia de Larrocha definitely comes on top – I used to listen to her Granados/Goyescas and Albeniz/Iberia all the time before studying with her. I became a huge fan and fought for the privilege of becoming her pupil in Barcelona. I succeeded! I also owe a lot to Carmen Bravo Mompou – a great pianist and the widow of Frederic Mompou – one of my favourite composers, and Carlota Garriga – also a great pianist and the widow of one of renown conductors, Igor Markevich.
When composing I think I am between Japanese and some mixture of those countries I was stimulated by – I intuitively belong to Japanese culture because I grew up there but at the same time I absorbed lots of mixed cultures. I like Japanese composers, such as Toru Takemitsu, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Joe Hisaishi etc. and the most of classical music composers like Debussy, Mompou, Chopin, Granados lots more..
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
To find my own way and stick to it. Combining ambitious classical performance with being a composer is not always easy. I try hard at my composing and my performing leveraging each other.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Finishing my ‘Brightwater’ CD gave me a great sense of achievement – I worked on it really hard for more than a year with the help of a number of people, including OBC concertmaster Christian Chivu and the Symphony Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu the 1st soloist-cellist Cristoforo Pestalozzi. I should say, as well, that felt really emotional when I played one of my pieces in a full Barcelona’s Palau de la Música in the context of a charity event to raise funds to support people affected by Japan’s big earthquake.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Probably French and Spanish classical. I also get carried away with romanticism in music such as Chopin, Schumann, Mendelssohn lots more… And my own pieces!
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
I think carefully about how the pieces tie with one another. I think about the concert as a whole, trying to give it different moments, different emotions and would usually challenge myself to leverage on my cross-cultural musical background to choose the pieces.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I might say there is a venue in each city of each country. I like those places because they are fruits of cultural heritage from there. I especially like Palau de la Música in Barcelona, beautiful architecture, the size of the place and the acoustics are perfect.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
Beyond classical, I listen to lots of electronic and ambient music – I like Anohni (Antony Hegarty), Tori Amos, Sigur Ros, etc.
Who are your favourite musicians?
I would go for Martha Argerich, Maria Joao Pires, Daniel Barenboim, Mitsuko Uchida, Joshua Bell, Ryuichi Sakamoto.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Playing Schumann Piano Concert in Bulgaria. I hardly communicated with most of orchestra members because of the language barrier, but on with the conductor, Sir Palikalov who is great musician and speaks English. But through music, we communicated very well and we understood each other. That process was a wonderful experience.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
I guess be ambitious with the quality of the product and be yourself. Never give up making steps ahead.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I would like to have made an impact in the musical circles – big or small – but an impact which I feel proud of.
What is your most treasured possession?
Ayako Fujiki’s new album ‘Brightwater’, featuring her own original pieces, was released on 30th September in UK. Ayako composes her own music, incorporating classical and electronic music techniques.
Born in Tokyo, Ayako Fujiki started playing the piano as a young child and performed her first concert at age seven, playing Beethoven and Chopin. She has performed in Japan, Spain, UK, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Colombia and Bulgaria.