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Work of the Week – Toshio Hosokawa: Prayer

With Toshio Hosokawa’s new violin concerto Prayer, the composer reflects on the passing of modern events and their overall influence on the life of the soul. The piece is dedicated to world renowned soloist Daishin Kashimoto who will perform it for the first time on 02 March 2023 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Paavo Järvi at the Philharmonie Berlin. 

Hosokawa wrote his piece at a time when the coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the death of his mother and his own failing health were weighing heavily on his mind. He found inner support in Buddhist statues which he had always admired. In his native Japan, he encounters these stone and wooden sculptures not only in temples, but also in ordinary places such as public footpaths and roadsides. Many of these statues were created by unknown artists but are carefully guarded and preserved by the local townspeople. Hosokawa feels that the prayers of these Buddhist statues are an invisible support in life and therefore asked himself if his musical works could also have this same powerful effect - hence the title of his new piece, Prayer

Power from inner silence: Prayer by Toshio Hosokawa

The five-part work outlines an individual's interaction with the spiritual world which Hosokawa symbolises through the interplay of solo violin and orchestra. The composer considers shamanic celebrations to be the origin of music and therefore considers prayer to be akin in nature: 

In this violin concerto, too, I see the soloist as the shaman and the orchestra in the background as the cosmos, nature, extending into and beyond the shaman. The shaman sings to the cosmos, to which the cosmos responds or rebels. As the songs are exchanged, the prayer gradually deepens and the shaman eventually becomes one with the cosmos and nature. (Toshio Hosokawa)

Following the premiere, the Berliner Philharmoniker will have two more performances of the piece on March 3 and 4. In addition to these concerts, potential co-commissions of Prayer with the Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra and Lucerne Symphony Orchestra are also being planned.



Toshio Hosokawa: Composer Profile

Prayer: Work Details and Online Score

Website Berlin Philharmonic

photo: antreas8n5 / Adobe Stock