Voice of the Rain : for shakuhachi and string quartet
by Ross Edwards (2016)
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My fascination with the shakuhachi began as a postgraduate
student in England, when I came across Gorō Yamaguchi's now
classic LP A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky, a collection of
traditional shakuhachi solos. I made a habit of listening to it
before going to sleep at night. Years later, in Australia, I met
Grand Master Riley Lee, under whose guidance I began composing
for the instrument. My first shakuhachi piece, Raft Song at
Sunrise, was commissioned by Ross Mellick to accompany an
exhibition of his bamboo constructions at the Art Gallery of New
South Wales, and it has remained in Riley's repertoire. Other
pieces followed, including Dawn Mantras, in which the
shakuhachi figures prominently, and The Heart of Night,
composed for Riley as soloist with the Melbourne Symphony
The shakuhachi is especially remarkable for its capacity to evoke natural sounds like wind, water and birdsong. It can even sound like the human voice. In Voice of the Rain I've tried to integrate these qualities into an imagined dialogue between the human and natural worlds.
Instrumentation: Shakuhachi, 2 violins, viola, cello.
Duration: 6 min.
Commission note: Commissioned with funds provided by Australia Council.
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