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 Soundscape of the Seasons / 四季の音風景 will be performance in Tokyo, Japan

My work Soundscape of the Seasons / 四季の音風景 for shakuhachi, shamisen, and koto will be performance 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.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27th, 2016: Premiere of Withering Chrysanthemum / 残菊 (2016) in Tokyo, Japan

My work for solo 13-string koto, Withering Chrysanthemum / 残菊 (2016) will received its world premiere in Tokyo, Japan. This work was commissioned by Sahoko Nozawa. 

Program notes:

There is no flower I adore more than the chrysanthemum. I love the beautiful color and the shapes of the individual pedals. Most of all, I am fascinated by the intricate design created by the various layers of pedals, an element which I came to appreciate as I struggled to draw a chrysanthemum in my Chinese ink drawing class at the Kaetsu Centre in Cambridge, England.

This work is intended to evoke the lifespan of chrysanthemum. The piece begins gently and innocently, a pedal-less bud. The piece slowly grows in intensity as pedals begin to appear and the flower blooms. There are two sections of the work in which the chrysanthemum struggles to survive through harsh weather conditions such as strong winds or rain. Towards the end of the work, the pedals are unable to resist being pulled from their stems by a fierce storm. The final moments musically depict the last remaining pedals as the chrysanthemum faces the end of its life.



Saturday, July 23, 2016

July 23rd, 2016: Performance of Three Incantations (2012) in Tokyo

 20th Anniversary Concert 

Saturday, July 23rd 2016
Kioi Small Hall (5 min walk from JR Yotsuya Station or Akasaka Mitsuke Subway)
1:30 pm Doors open
2:00 pm Start

¥2,500 advanced purchase
¥3,000 at the door

Consisting mainly of graduates from the 40th group to study at the NHK training program for young musicians of traditional instruments, Shijukikai has been active over the past 20 years sharing the beauty of Japanese music with a variety of audiences. It is quite rare to see such a wide array of Japanese instruments during the course of a single concert, so this is not one to be missed. There will be both Yamada and Ikuta style koto represented along with shakuhachi, shinobue flute, tsugaru shamisen and the ichigen-kin (Japan’s one string instrument). Kioi Hall is conveniently located in the center of Tokyo. Hope you can make it!

Kaede No Hana (Classical honte/kaede koto ensemble, Yamada-ryu)
Sankai/Three Incantations (A new composition for 25-string koto by Marty Regan)
Chikushi no Sakura (for koto and misato-bue/flute)
Mai (koto/shakuhachi duo)
Toccata (25 string koto)
Tsugaru Aiya Bushi (tsugaru shamisen)
Session (tsugaru shamisen, shino-bue, bass koto improvisation)
Kagen no Tsuki (for one string koto and shakuhachi)
Josho no Kanata (koto, bass koto)

「萌芽」~芽ぐみ 紡ぐ響き~
チケット 2,500円前売り/3,000 円当日


楓の花( 箏本手/替手)


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June 12th, 2016: World premiere of Alleluia for SATB choir in Cambridge, England

World premiere of my new work for SATB choir Alleluia (2016)

WHERE: Lee Hall, Wolfson College, University of Cambridge
WHEN: Sunday, June 12th, 3-5PM

Program notes:

Inspired by the extraordinary, heart-lifting musical performances I heard during evensong while in residence at the University of Cambridge during academic year 2015-2016, this work makes the first time in my life I have set a liturgical text. The music progresses through a dazzling array of tonal centers and ebbs and flows with great dynamic contrast and intensity before coming to rest on the final Amen. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

June 9th, 2016: Duo YUMENO perform Send off at Yellow Crane Tower / 黄鶴楼

Duo YUMENO perform Send off at the Yellow Crane Tower / 黄鶴楼

If you love the sound of the cello and the koto, come and enjoy the Duo Yumeno concert at Densho Hall on June 9. This concert will surprise and excite you. Combining traditional pieces with new compositions commissioned just for them, you will discover a new world of music. 

Proceeds from the Duo Yumeno concert will be donated by Cantabile Kojimachi to CWAJ Scholarships & Education programs and Fukushima Relief Projects.

WHEN: June 9, Thursday, Time: 7:00 pm (doors open 6:30 pm)
WHERE: Densho Hall, Shibuya Cultural Center Owada

Ticket price:
3,000 yen (in advance), 3,500 yen (at door)、1,000 yen (students)

CWAJ members can purchase tickets at the May luncheon, or contact CWAJ member Jeannie Ohmae.

For further information, please contact Cantabile Kojimachi:
          Tel: 080-5694-5797, or 03-6753-2822

Program notes:

Send off at Yellow Crane Tower is based on a Japanese translation of a poem by Li Bai (705-762), widely proclaimed as one of China’s most influential poets. The Yellow Crane Tower, known as Huáng Hè Lóu in Chinese, was built in 223 AD and reconstructed in 1981. It stands on Sheshan (Snake Hill), at the bank of the Yangtze River in the Wuchang District of Hubei province. The poem was written on the occasion of Li Bai parting with his friend and poetic colleague Meng Haoron.

It is cast in a large-scale ABA1 form that echoes a musical architecture known as tegotomono, which is found in sankyoku (chamber music for a trio of Japanese instruments that flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) repertoire. This form consists of a mae-uta (opening song), tegoto (virtuosic instrumental interlude), and ato-uta (ending song). Set quite low in the range, the vocal line employs characteristic musical gestures found in a traditional Japanese singing style known as jiuta. The opening measures presents a pensive, somehow nostalgic melody in the koto, providing the primary melodic material that reappears throughout the work in a variety of guises.

Text and English translation


At Yellow Tower in the west 
My old friend says farewell;
In the mist and flowers of spring 
He goes down to Yangzhou;
Lonely sail, distant shadow,
Vanish in blue emptiness;
All I see is the great river 
Flowing into the far horizon.

– translated by Yang Xianyi