Four Mystical Songs

Program Notes:

Texts written by Zhou Zuanjing, Kojiju, Sun Bu-er and Cui Shauxuan. Translated into English by Jane Hirshfield and Edwin A. Cranston.

Conductor Notes:

Four movements: 1) Meditating at Midnight (2:54), 2) The Spirit of the Heart as Moon-Disk (2:08), 3) Late Indian Summer (1:40), 4) Black Hair and Red Cheeks (1:37). Note that the 30-second sound clip here is just of the first movement. The whole suite is on the “Legacy” CD published by the Canadian Music Centre and available on iTunes.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

I chose four poems from a collection of spiritual poetry by women, called Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by the American poet (and translator of three of the poems) Jane Hirshfield. The poets – Zhou Xuanjing, Kojiju, Sun Bu-er, and Cui Shaoxuan – lived in 11th and 12th century China and Japan.

The poems are observations about life and the poignancy of being human, and they seemed very private to me. I felt that I was almost “overhearing” the words. The four songs are a cappella and can be sung seperately, or as a set.


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