ryuteki, hichiriki, and shou (2009)

(excerpt) Premiere: March 6, 2010, Miller Theater at Columbia University, performed by members of Reigakusha:
Takeshi Sasamoto, ryuteki; Hitomi Nakamura, hichiriki; Remi Miura, shou

duration: 12:25

program note

「ルビコン川」(Rubicon) ~龍笛、篳篥、笙のための~(2009)


“Crossing the Rubicon“(ルビコンの決断)”とは後戻りできなくなる境界を意を決して越えることの例えであり、紀元前49年の、ジュリアス・シーザーによる古代ローマ侵略に由来します。シーザーは衝突を承知であえて法を侵し、軍にルビコン川を渡らせました。古典音楽がおかれてきた、世俗と隔離された伝統的な環境がなくなった現在、雅楽が存在していく道を見つけることはより難しくなっています。私は伶楽舎のメンバーを非常に尊敬しています。彼らは古代からの伝統を純粋に、そのままの形で引き継ぐと同時に、21世紀の音楽的着想によってつくられたレパートリーをも演奏しているのです。            エリザベス・ブラウン

Rubicon (2009) for ryuteki, hichiriki, and shou (of the Gagaku)

In 2007-2008, I lived in Japan on a Cultural Exchange Fellowship sponsored by the US/Japan Friendship Commission. I had the privilege of meeting Takeshi Sasamoto and Hitomi Nakamura, and was invited to attend Reigakusha rehearsals. Sitting in a room surrounded by the Reigakusha musicians, I was struck by the timelessness of the music, the ceremony surrounding it, and the physical sensation and volume of the instruments. I’d played shakuhachi for 25 years, and it was the focus of my Japan residency – but Gagaku was a new and overwhelming sonic experience, which changed me.

Crossing the Rubicon” is a metaphor for deliberately proceeding past a point of no return. The phrase originates with Julius Caesar’s invasion of Ancient Rome when, on January 10, 49 BC, he led his army across the Rubicon River in violation of law, hence making conflict inevitable. As the sequestered situations that surrounded traditional music in the past have disappeared, it is increasingly a challenge find a path for this music. I have the utmost respect for the musicians of Reigakusha, who manage to carry forward an ancient, pure and unbroken tradition while simultaneously embracing repertoire shaped by 21st century musical ideas.