Wednesday, March 15, 2017

April 2nd, 2017: Performance of Magic Mirror (2008) in New York

My contemporary gagaku work, Magic Mirror/魔鏡 will be performed at the 12th Annual Concert of Japanese Heritage Musical Instruments.

WHEN: Sunday, April 2, 2017, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM 

WHERE: Miller Theatre, Columbia University

Performed by Yōko Reikano Kimura (shamisen), Hitomi Nakamura (hichiriki), Takeshi Sasamoto (ryūteki), Mayumi Miyata (shō), Kaoru Watanabe (shinobue), James Nyoraku Schlefer (shakuhachi).

In order to gauge expected turnout, please register at the following link: Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies : April 2nd concert.


Program notes

Magic Mirror is a modern-style gagaku composition. The piece abounds in the gestural vocabulary, textures, harmonies, ornamentation and long breath phrases often found in gagaku. The "mirror" found in the title of this piece references three distinct elements:
1) the "reflection" (like a mirror) of my understanding of gagaku music as I compose a piece for sextet containing three representative gagaku instruments
2) the symmetrical 7-part arch form characterized by changes in instrumentation and tempo markings:
a) Solo shō, free rhythm
b) Entire ensemble, slow, steady pulse
c) Rhythmically driving, featuring the shamisen
d) Ryūteki and hichiriki solo, free rhythm
c) Rhythmically driving, featuring the shamisen
b) Entire ensemble, slow, steady pulse
a) Solo shō, free rhythm
3) The solo shō "A" section at the beginning and end are mirror retrogrades of each other (i.e. the same material is presented backwards)

The "magic" in the title simply refers to the mysterious, ethereal quality of the piece, no doubt thanks to the presence of the three gagaku instruments.


「魔鏡」は、現代的な雅楽のスタイルによる作品である。この曲は、しばしば雅楽における形式的な表現要素、書法、ハーモニー、装飾音そして長い息のフレーズが多く含んでいる。この作品のタイトルである“鏡”という言葉は、三つの特徴的な事柄を言及している。一つ目は、私の雅楽に関する理解を(鏡のように)映し出している。それは、雅楽の代表的な三つの楽器を含む6つの楽器によるこの曲を作曲する中で得られたものである。二つ目は、対称的な7つのパートによるアーチ型の構成は、楽器の組み合わせの変化とテンポの違いによって、特徴づけられる 。(a)自由なリズムによるソロの笙(b)緩やかで、規則的な拍節感のある全楽器によるアンサンブル(c)三味線を主体としたリズッミクな運び(d)自由なリズムによる竜笛と篳篥のソロ(c) 三味線を主体としたリズッミクな運び(b) 緩やかで、規則的な拍節感のある全楽器によるアンサンブル(a) 自由なリズムによるソロの笙。三つ目は、曲の始まりにある 笙ソロによる “A” セクションと曲の終わりの部分が逆行の関係にある。タイトルの“魔”という言葉は、この曲のミステリアスで天空に満ちるような優美な性質を意味している。雅楽の三つの楽器が現存することに感謝を表したい。

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

April 1st, 2017: Performance of Voyage (2008) in New South Wales, Australia

Voyage:  A Concert for Shakuhachi Flute and String Quartet
WHEN:  Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM UTC+11
WHERE: Kindlehill School, 8 Lake St., Wentworth Falls, New South Wales, Australia 2782

This piece is a sonic reflection on our mortality and the impermanence of our lives, and the title simply refers to the personal journey that each of us takes. It is dedicated to the memory of Mary Elizabeth Farmer, a student of mine from Texas A&M University who was tragically killed in a car accident in Austin, Texas on May 15, 2008.

Voyage was commissioned by the World Shakuhachi Festival 08’ and was generously supported by Texas A&M University’s Program to Enhance Scholarly and Creative Activities Grant. It was premiered in Sydney, Australia at the World Shakuhachi Festival 08’ on July 6, 2008 by Dr. James Franklin (shakuhachi) and the Grainger String Quartet.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Friday, October 7, 2016

November 10th, 2016: Performance of 月に遊ぶ in Tokyo

My work 月に遊ぶ for soprano, 21-string koto, and shakuhachi will be performed in Tokyo on November 10th, 2017

WHERE: Sumida Triphony Hall:
WHEN: November 10th, 2016, 6:30PM



吉田 義昭

春の月 海に浮かべ
ただ そっと後ずさりしていた月

夏の月 海に遊び
ただ 悲しみ喜びをくりかえす月

秋の月 海に揺れて
ただ 静かに流されていただけの月

冬の月 海に沈め
ただ 永遠を求めただけの月の光

Sunday, September 25, 2016

September 25th, 2016: Performance of Three Poems by Tanikawa Shuntaro (2002) in Houston, TX

My song cycle for soprano and piano, entitled Three Poems by Tanikawa Shuntarō (2002) will be performed in Houston, TX by Julia Fox and Keith Weber.

WHERE: Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 4930 W Bellfort St, Houston, Texas 77035
WHEN: September 25th, 2016, 4:00PM~
Admission: FREE

Program notes:  

In 1997 I discovered the poetry of Tanikawa Shuntarō, arguably the most widely read and highly regarded of living Japanese poets. Many of his poems are written in hiragana rather than in Chinese characters and intended for children. Hence, as a student of Japanese it is relatively easy for me to read and understand his poetry. Together, the three poems chosen for this song cycle represent three core aspects of the human experience; love, play, and nature. The first song in the cycle, Kiss, is an evocative, sensuous musical setting of the emotion of love. It is set in a profoundly expressive, hyper-chromatic harmonic language to express passion and ecstasy. The second song in this cycle, Koro, koro, is the shortest and most playful of the three. Moto perpetuo sixteenth notes in the right hand of piano are offset by a bouncy rhythm in the left hand. The piano accompaniment spins, rocks, and sways, reflecting the movement in the poetry. As the poem becomes more introspective the piano accompaniment becomes less dense and more expressive. Towards the end of the movement a Japanese pentatonic scale is used to reflect the national identity of the poet and reinforce the Japanese language. The third song in the cycle, Haru (‘spring’) is a deeply introspective setting of a protagonist being so inspired by nature that he/she feels connected to a higher spiritual power. The forward movement and sense of looking beyond each element in one’s field of vision in the poem is musically reflected in ascending melodic vocal lines that come to a breathtakingly dramatic climax. In the final measures, a gentle falling gesture in the piano is intended to evoke the image of a cherry blossom gently swaying back and forth as it slowly drops to the ground.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

September 17th, 2016: Performance of In Remembrance... (2005) in Houston, TX

My 2005 work for piano trio and shakuhachi, In Remembrance... (2005) will be performed by the Trio Oriens in Houston, TX on Septmber 17th, 2016. Please see the attached flyer for more information:

In Remembrance... is an elegy composed for the victims of September 11, 2001. While certain sections of the piece are mournful and express a sense of loss, there is also a sense of hope and beauty. The combination of different aural soundscapes, reflected by the representative Japanese end-blown flute, the shakuhachi, and three Western instruments, suggests a coming together of disparate cultures. The cadenzas for shakuhachi invoke traditional shakuhachi honkyoku, the repertoire of “original pieces'” that have been orally transmitted over the past 500 years within the context of Zen Buddhism, sacred pieces that are considered “sonic meditations.” Specifically, excerpts from the honkyoku entitled Tamuke (a Requiem piece) are used to remember those who lost their lives on this tragic day.

In Remembrance... was commissioned by the Hawai‘i Music Educators Association and premiered on November 10, 2006 by Marty Regan (shakuhachi), Ignace Jang (violin), I-Bei Lin (violoncello), and Thomas Yee (piano) in Orvis Auditorium at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. 

Duration: ca. 12 minutes

この曲は、9.11の犠牲者のために作曲した悲歌である。曲中、いくつかの部分では死を悼み、喪失感を表現しているが、将来への肯定感、美しさ、希望といった思いも表している。日本の代表的な縦笛楽器である尺八、そして3つの西洋楽器によって、異なる聴覚の音風景が映し出される。これは、本質的に異なる文化が互いに寄り沿うことを意味する。曲中における尺八のカデンツァは、日本伝統音楽の「本曲」を想起させる。本曲とは、禅仏教の歴史において、500年以上も前から口承で受け継がれてきた音楽作品のことを指す。それらは宗教的な音楽であり、ある種の吹善と考えられている。具体的には「手向け」(鎮魂曲)という題名の本曲の一部が、2001年の9.11にて命を失った方々を覚えて、曲中で使われている。「In Remembrance...」 はハワイ州の音楽教師協会(HMEA)の委嘱によって作曲され、06年11月10日にハワイ大学マノア校で初演された。

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11th, 2016: Performance of Soundscapes of the Seasons / 四季の音風景 performance in Tokyo, Japan

My work Soundscapes of the Seasons / 四季の音風景 for shakuhachi, shamisen, and koto will be performed in Tokyo, Japan.

WHEN: September 11th, 2016, 2:30PM~
WHERE: Brick Hall, Tokyo

As the title implies, in Soundscapes of the Seasons, for shakuhachi, shamisen, and koto, I seek to express the core essence of the seasons through music. The first movement, Fall, is elegant and austere. The second movement, Winter, begins with a quiet, spacious koto solo, but gradually increases in intensity to represent a the coming of a light snowstorm. The third movement, Spring, was inspired by Minoru Miki's The Young Sprout for 21-string koto solo. The koto provides a sprightly, buoyant ostinato in compound meter over which the shakuhachi plays a lyrical, carefree melody. In the middle section of this movement, every possible instrumental combination is explored in a series of duets. A whirlwind of energy from start to finish, in Summer the koto and shamisen provide a lively, syncopated ostinato over which that shakuhachi soars.