conductor · composer
rory wainwright johnston
For a cappella mezzo-soprano
The term ‘kigo’ (季語) relates to specific words used in Haiku and other Japanese poetry which highlight a seasonal element of the poem and place it in one of the seasons of the year.
Kigo takes four Haiku, one for each season, and explores them thematically using the voice.
The first, whose kigo is ‘hana’ (花), the word for blossom or cherry blossom, paints the descent of a blossom as it falls off the tree at the end of spring.
The second, ‘hotaru’ (蛍) - meaning firefly - depicts a hot summer night sat in a Japanese temple, with the sound of its massive bell and the fireflies resting on and flying around it.
The third, ‘tsuki’ (月) - or moon - speaks of a mythical practice called ‘ubasute’ where an elderly relative was taken into the mountains to die, often because of a lack of food or supplies in the village. This haiku is said to be related to a story, which paints that picture, but speaks of a change of heart by the son after seeing the full autumn moon, who then returns to collect his mother.
The final movement, ‘fuyugare’ (冬枯) - or Winter desolation - audibly explores a barren winter landscape and the sound of the wind rushing across it.
These songs were commissioned by Vizma Zvaigzne and premiered by her in January 2023