Commissioned by Kyo-Shin-An Arts.
Premiered February 9, 2020. Tenri Cultural Institute, New York, NY, James Nyoraku Schlefer, shakuhachi, David Yang, viola; Hikaru Tamaki, cello
three zen poems for shakuhachi, viola, and cello, is based on the poetry of zen monks from the 15th & 16th Centuries. Together they describe to me three phases of a life in music – the initial enchantment, music as refuge and restoration in times of need, and the fulfillment that’s possible in a life dedicated to music. In writing the piece, I thought of the shakuhachi as the protagonist and the strings as the inner voices that respond to its promptings.
I take out the shakuhachi from beneath my sleeve, to blow it while waiting and the the wind through the pine- scatters flowers as though a dream;
How much longer will I have to play until my heart is quiet again?
This shakuhachi of mine
May well bear the name
But now that many nights have passed
It has become the companion of my old age
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