Archive for June, 2005

Symphony No. 3 “Shadows of Japanese Children”

Friday, June 10th, 2005

        I wrote a new symphony, Symphony No. 3 “Shadows of Japanese Children”. It is based my string quartet with the same title which was completed in 1993. It was a time when I began writing music influence by other cultures. I also began experimenting with polyrhythms and elastic-tempos, like Cowell describes in his book, New Musical Resources. When the SFCCO decided to perform Henry Cowell’s Symphony No. 13 “Madras”, I revisited his music and writings. Listening to Cowell’s “Ongaku for Orchestra” brought my string quartet to my mind. So I decide to rewrite my string quartet and turn it into a symphony for this special SFCCO concert. (video)

       “Shadows of Japanese Children” is a four-movement work based on Japanese music. A book I found in a used bookstore in Dallas, Unforgettable Fire, inspired it. Atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki filled this book with drawings and stories. Many were about children turned into ash statues – their shadows burned on the ground. This very powerful book reminds us that war is not a video game. This work is dedicated to those children. 
       The first movement, “Shadows Playing on the Ground“, makes use of a melody in a Japanese classical piece by Kengyo Fujinaga called Yachiyo Jishi (1741-1744). The second movement, “Where has the Shadow’s Father Gone?” is based on the lullaby Ora No Omboko. The third movement, “The Mountain of One Thousand Good Fortunes is Ablaze!” is based on the folk song Sempuku-yama. The titles of the second and third movements are based on the lyrics of the original folk song. The fourth movement, “In the Fallen Sun, only Shadows Remain” makes use of two more folk melodies Hora Nero Nen Nero & Toryanse. The title of this movement and the first movement come from lines in the beginning of Unforgettable Fire.