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Instrumentation: shakuhachi, bass clarinet, vibraphone, mandolin, and bass shamisen
Duration: 8 minutes
World Premiere: April 28, 2017, Thomas Piercy (conductor), Christopher Yohmei Blasdel (shakuhachi), Ryuta Iwase (bass clarinet), Makoto Aruga (vibraphone), Go Mochizuki (mandolin), Sansuzu Tsuruzawa (bass shamisen), presented by Tonada Productions as part of the Tokyo to New York concert series at Ohmi Gakudo, Tokyo Opera City.
Unlike traditional piano or string quintets, my first quintet is a work for mixed ensemble of Japanese and Western instruments.
It was inspired by the poetry of Chika Sagawa. Unlike most female Japanese poets of her time, she wove Western influences into her work, used free verse to explore her interiority rather than relying on traditional forms, and expressed an individual relationship with nature.
On a personal level, I relate to her condition: fragile physically, standing up alone, trying to make sense of the universe. And aesthetically we converge: deep pain and radiant beauty resonate throughout her work, often triggered in the same moment.
Chika Sagawa died before her twenty-fifth birthday. I dedicate my piece to her.