Sonata for the Other Shore
Duration: 11 min
Based on Tanchame-bushi, a Japanese Folk Song
Commissioned by Christopher McKiggan with grants from the Presser Foundation
This piece is intended for cross-cultural handshake between current and former rival countries. As a former Chinese citizen, I was invited to fold a Japanese folk song into a new composition for Piano.
Just three generations ago, Japanese and Chinese soldiers fought World War II battles for control of the Pacific. The conflict cost the lives of twenty million Chinese and three million Japanese. The scars run deep.
So I began with mixed feelings about my cross-cultural intention: could I somehow dissociate political conduct from cultural aspiration? At the turn of century, the Chinese artistic culture was unable to keep up with the political pace. And what little I knew about Japanese culture, I learned not from their military history, but from their individual stories. “Tanchame-Bushi” is such a story. Boys catch fish. Girls sell the fish. A sweet fragrance as the girls dance. A seaside Romance.
When I think of the raw history between Japan and China, my gut hums with the feeling of long-ago violence. I can sense the distance because I personally know no one who experienced the historical horror. I cannot picture the reality of the culture that ignited human catastrophe. But I sure can hear it, in the distance. It’s calling for the sweet fragrance of seaside romance, a distorted dance of hope and reconciliation.
-Wang JieContact Wang Jie to inquire about the score