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I am writing in this book, op. 88 : for soprano, mezzo-soprano, cello, double bass, percussion, harp and piano

by Andrew Schultz (2011)

Score Sample

View a sample of the score of this work

Audio Sample

Performance by Halcyon, David Stanhope from the CD I am writing in this book, op. 88

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I am writing in this book, op. 88


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I am writing in this book, op. 88 / Andrew Schultz ; Halcyon.

Library shelf no. CD 2248 [Available for loan]

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Work Overview

The work is made up of settings of five songs in English on texts from the tenth century The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon adapted by the composer. In developing the work I have been interested in some of the timeless ideas and contradictions in Shonagon's famous Japanese text. Self-conscious female allure contrasted with powerlessness and anger, the malevolent and liberating force of language, and the sensual and material world sitting in contrast to the artist's inner life. The Pillow Book consists of a diary of anecdotes, often quite quirky and poetic lists, and contemporary literary accounts written over a period of many years. The diary was written on paper given to Shonagon by the Empress in whose court she served. As a diarist, Shonagon seems to exemplify the artist's continual paradox - wanting artistic privacy but working in a form that is inherently destined to be public. So it is not surprising that many have been drawn to her work over the centuries and seen in it a mirror for the contemporary world as well as a unique insight into feudal Japan.

My work charts Shonagon's growth as a woman and a diarist from enthusiastic and naïve in the first song, through three songs that show her world and range of interests, to a final song steeped in the bitterness and dissolution of old age. The texts for the songs are in some cases overlapping combinations of different parts of the original.

Work Details

Year: 2011

Instrumentation: Soprano, mezzo-soprano, cello, double bass, percussion (1 player), piano, harp.

Duration: 18 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. A gift of paper (2 min., 35 sec.) -- 2. Secret meetings (4 min., 30 sec.) --  3. Language of women (3 min., 40 sec.) --  4. I see the word ‘storm’ (3 min.,  30 sec.) -- 5. It is getting dark 2 min., 50 sec.).

Commission note: Commissioned by Halcyon.. Written as part of a Bundanon Development Residency

First performance: by Halcyon, David Stanhope at Halcyon: Life on Paper (Verbrugghen Hall) on 18 Sep 2011


Performances of this work

4 Sep 2015: at Winter Moon Secrets (Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music). Featuring Halcyon.

18 Sep 2011: at Halcyon: Life on Paper (Verbrugghen Hall). Featuring Halcyon, David Stanhope.

15 Sep 11: Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Featuring Halcyon, David Stanhope.

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