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Hun Qiao: Bridge of Souls

Michio Mamiya interview transcript
Recorded May 29, 2001
Posted September 10, 2001

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Michio Mamiya spacer

Michio Mimiya,

Michio Mamiya: I was born in the northernmost island in Japan. It's called Hokkaido. And now, I live in Tokyo.

Dan Olson: The northernmost islands, are they very scenic with trees? Do the northernmost islands have lots of forests?

MM: Forests yes. Yes. Like in Canada. It looks like Canada.

DO: Snow-capped mountains?

MM: Yes.

DO: Well ...

MM: And lots of ski spots.

DO: Popular, popular with the skiers. Well thank you so much for coming by. It's a great pleasure to have you here and to get a chance to talk with you. Tell us about your piece in the commemoration. The piece titled: Serenade No. 3, "Germ." Where did you get the inspiration for this piece?

MM: When I asked to take part in this—a kind of very historical, meaningful, premier concert of our work. I thought to take part in this project will be my, kind of, solemn duty as a musician and also as a Japanese composer. Actually to say, my place for this project is rather a little bit delicate ... yes, because I am only participant from ... I forgot what I was saying.

DO: No, no. I understand what you're saying though. I understand: It is a delicate moment for you because you must ... I think you expressed it well when you said you feel like this is a solemn duty that you have.

MM: Yes. Yes.

DO: Why do you feel that way? Why do you feel like it's a solemn duty?

MM: Because in last century, there were a lot of terrible wars all over the world. And our nation was a kind of one of the aggressor-side nation. When I asked, I decided to use some poem, part for the voice in the piece. Actually ... it's my good friend. And this is written for some kind of reconciliation.

DO: Would you read-are you comfortable reading the English translation of that poem for us?

MM: At first the portion, I read the portion I took for the last movement of my piece in Japanese. [Japanese.] ...

And dream in this poem, dream means a kind of tune which makes us never pull the trigger. But I ... we have to think that the music and the poem could be kind of magical power to heal our mind, but at the same time, music and words could be weapon to encourage to go to the war sometimes. And we composers and we musicians, and the poet, should refuse our music and our poem used as a weapon. That's the first motif of my composition.

And one more thing, in the last movement, it took the core of my new composition. The last movement has one motif. It is, namely, my lifelong motif. It's a motif of war or the motif of lament. And in the serenade, the motif and portion of the poem after the funeral by ... are linked together. Young-Nam Kim, who is a violinist, and the ... for this project as you know, asked me how this motif should be played. Should be painful or not? I answered: Not really painful, but I hope the audience feel it painful. And I hope in the process of linking the poem to ... linking the two ... poem and music in the last movement, the painful feeling change and become the peaceful feeling. That's the core of my composition. The piece occupied one single part for voice and five strings: two violins, a viola, and two cellos and progression. It has actually four movements. First movement, second movement and small episode, and third movement. And in the second movement, I took the poem from Walt Whitman's ... poem. It is unseen, but ... and in this poem, I found very fantastic word: germinal. And I took that-germ-for the title of the whole piece. And in this germ, I hope, I express a kind of ecology, ecological philosophy. It's ... you can find it in Whitman's poem. In his very many poems. And I love that philosophy.

So, the second movement has his poem .... And it's my prayer for future. It will be most important question for mankind to recompose beautiful harmony with mankind and nature. Which will ... in these two centuries, spoiled by our selfishness, civilization and, for example, acid rain, ozone hole, and dead ... lot of dead lakes. And this is my prayer for the future. And the last movement is a prayer for the past.

And when I heard that idea for this concert, Hun Qiao, I found that it's very Asian. Because, to talk and to make a conversation with dead spirit, every dead spirit, is a kind of Asian belief. It's quite common in Japan and in Korea and in China. And that expression or that idea is very familiar to me—yes, yes. It is my piece, right.

DO: Those are wonderful words. That's a wonderful description. I really appreciate it. It's very moving to hear the philosophy and the expression. Say one more time the pronunciation of the author, the poet of After the Funeral. His name....

MM: After the Funeral. First name is Hajime. Last name is Kigima.

DO: Good. And the piece that you read is this third stanza.

MM: Yes ... the third ... And last ... is linked to the third strophe. But I didn't use that last one, because it's too radical.

DO: Just one or two last questions. What would you like people who hear your music? What would you like them to take away? What feeling would you like to have them have inside themselves when they hear your music?

MM: It's simple, but very difficult question for me.

DO: I know.

MM: So, I want to ... make, confirm ... I'm making confirmation with people in all the world. Arts should be used for the peace, for the peace, not for encouraging the battle. It's my hope and the thing I want to feel from my music.

DO: Michio Mamiya, thank you so much for coming by to speak with us.

MM: It's my pleasure, and actually, I'm very excited to listen to my own music ... yes.

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