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Toyokawa (East River) : Piano sonata

by Ralph Middenway (1994)

Also known as: East River

Toyokawa (East River)


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Toyokawa (East River) : Piano sonata / Ralph Middenway.

Library shelf no. 786.2183/MID 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Toyokawa Inari-jinja is, uniquely, a Sōtō Zen temple and a Shintō shrine to Inari, the 'Happy God'. This piano piece is derived from an unforgettable event in 1990 when I was solemnly blessed in the shrine by a company of about 40 performers, and its structure is derived from the Sōtō Zen æsthetic principles of jo-ha-kyū (introduction, scattering rushing) and wabi-sabi (which values balanced asymmetry, simplicity and economy). And the initial strong rhythm which underlies the first movement was played on ōdaiko, that day in Toyokawa.

The piece doesn't sound Japanese. The aim was a virtuosic piece that conformed to those two Zen æsthetic principles-a kind of 'thank you'.

Work Details

Year: 1994

Instrumentation: Piano.

Duration: 20 min.

Difficulty: Advanced — Advanced technique and a high level of musicality required.

Written for: Sally Mays

Commission note: Commissioned with funds provided by Australia Council.

The composer notes:
This piece may have some affinity with my three song cycles based on Japanese poetry: 'Ishikawa' (Stone River), 'Songs of Poverty', and 'The Stream of Time'.

Totally rewritten as part of a UTas composition PhD project in 2013. The new version supercedes the original.


Performances of this work

8 Apr 16: Conservatorium of Music, Hobart. Featuring Michael Kieran Harvey.

8 Apr 2016: at Lecture recital by Michael Kieran Harvey & Ralph Middenway (Conservatorium Recital Hall, University of Tasmania). Featuring Michael Kieran Harvey.

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