“The Ghost of Urashima: A Tale in Three Parts”

Title “The Ghost of Urashima: A Tale in Three Parts”
Year 2003
Composer Daria Dobrochna Kwiatkowska
Instrument/s 17-string koto, oboe, percussion, narrator
Commission Commissioned by Ryuko Mizutani
First Performance (date, performers, venue) December 5, 2003 , Ryuko Mizutani, Tokyo
CD, Digital Audio d.d.kwiatkowska@bham.ac.uk
Contact Info https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/profiles/music/kwiatkowska-daria.aspx
Notes Even since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by fairly-tales from different cultures. When Ryuko asked me to compose a piece featuring her instrument – koto – it seemed natural to me to seek for inspiration in Japanese folk tales, rather than attempt to imitate traditional koto music. Combining a traditional Japanese instrument with modern, Western ones (like oboe) excluded this option in any case; instead I explored some traditional as well as experimental playing techniques in order to explore the timbre and use all instruments as characters in the story delivered by the narrator. The story itself is based on the Japanese folk tale “Urashima Taro” in the rendition by Lafcadio Hearn (the titles of the three parts were borrowed directly from this version). The narrator delivers a simplified version of the story, giving the listener only the crucial elements, told from the perspective of the protagonist (the fisherman Urashima). The music creates the setting, provides the appropriate atmosphere, but also complements the narrator as if they both were parts of the same person, or acts as the protagonist’s nemesis (the seductress from the Deep Sea). Although the work is not intended strictly as “staged”, a certain degree of theatricality is implied not only by the presence of the narrator, but also by simple actions (walking into and out of the stage) and players are asked to exaggerate gestures (as much as comfortable) to enhance the theatrical aspect of the piece. (Daria Dobrochna Kwiatkowska)