Hiten Shōka (1995)
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Description by the Composer
«In the obscurity of the caves buried beneath the sand in the oasis of Dunhuang in China, archaeologists earlier this century discovered a wealth of artifacts bearing witness to the cultural exchange between China and western Asia which took place along the Silk Road more than a millennium ago. In the Mogao caves the discovery was made of mural paintings depicting in various poses and combinations the angels (hiten in Japanese) living in the celestial regions who protect the Buddhas. The angels are shown with musical instruments in their hands. One wonders what music these angels can have been making over the past thousand years. One's thoughts go also to the artists who painted these murals on every available surface within the cave. What motivated them to paint these pictures with such single-minded dedication? Letting my imagination roam free on the musical sounds created by these angels, I found it impossible to suppress a feeling of awed admiration for these anonymous artists. This work for the Chinese two-string bowed lute erhu and orchestra is intended as a paean not only of the hiten angels but also of the painters of Dunhuang who depicted these angels with such skill and devotion.
«"Ode to the Hiten" is the fifth work in my "Hiten" series, the previous four being Hitenraku for Gagaku, Shōmyō and Percussion (1981), Hiten Seidō I for Ryuteki, Shō and Hichiriki (1983), Hiten Seidō II for Marimba Duo (1983), and Hiten Seidō III for Solo Marimba (1987).»