The pandemic that began in 2020 has not ended, the war in Ukraine began in February 2022, and the world is becoming increasingly chaotic. On a personal note, it was at such a time that my mother passed away and I myself fell ill and was repeatedly hospitalised and operated on. The violin concerto 'Prayer' was born during these times.
I have always enjoyed admiring Buddhist statues. In Japan, stone and wooden Buddha images can be found not only in temples, but also on ordinary roadsides. Many of them were carved by unknown sculptors (buddhist sculptors) and have been carefully watched over and preserved by people for a long time. The 'prayers' of these Buddhist statues are probably supporting us in unseen places. I wonder if my musical works could have the same 'prayer' as the Buddha statues created by this unknown sculptor.
I believe that music has its origins in shamanistic festivals and that shamans' prayer songs are fundamental. In this violin concerto, too, I see the soloist as the shaman and the orchestra in the background as the cosmos, nature, which extends within and beyond the shaman. The shaman sings to the cosmos, to which the cosmos responds or rebels. During the exchange of songs, the prayer gradually deepens and the shaman finally becomes one with the cosmos and nature.
The whole is divided into five parts.
1, Introduction. Spirits descend slowly from the heavens.
2, Interlude. A person (violin solo) responds to the voice of the spirit, which silently descends in a glissando from the heavens to the earth.
3, Song of Prayer. Song of man living on the earth. From a low note, gradually rising.
4A, Struggle A. The song of man (violin) goes violently upwards, to which the orchestra responds violently.
4B, Struggle B. The violins move even more violently, to which the orchestra reacts aggressively, as if to overwhelm them.
5, Purification. The orchestra quietly sustains a harmonic octave, into which the solo violin slowly dissolves.
This piece is dedicated to Daishin Kashimoto, the premiere performer. Daishin Kashimoto, who plays the violin, looks to me like a 'praying man'. The work was co-commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Yomiuri Symphony Orchestra and the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra. Premiered 2, 3 and 4 March at the Berlin Philharmonie. Daishin Kashimoto (violin), conducted by Paavo Jaervi.