Michael Fiday: 9 Haiku

UnknownPenn alum Michael Fiday has been invited to participate in this year’s “Wail of the Voice!” concert at U Penn – this Friday, January 24 at 8 pm in Rose Recital Hall in Fisher-Bennett Hall, 34th and Walnut on the Penn campus. Check out Mike’s website here; a nice interview here. We’ll be hearing his 9 Haiku for flute and piano. Here is his program note:

9 Haiku is a set of varied musical reflections on texts by Basho.  Haiku pose a paradox in terms of scope, their concise forms revealing an entire world within.  In keeping with this, some of the reflections are as long as 3 minutes, others barely 30 seconds.  I chose the texts, then arranged them in a specific order based on subject (birds, moon, bells), framing them by two outer texts suggesting the beginning and end of a life journey.  The first setting does make use of an actual rice planting song (Ta-ue-uta), which recurs from time to time.  The last haiku is significant in that it is Basho’s “death poem” – the last haiku he ever wrote.  9 Haiku was originally composed for Eleonore Pameijier and Marcel Worms as part of their ‘6 Continents Project’.

The beginning of art –
a rice-planting song
in the backcountry.

attached to nothing,
the skylark singing.

Harvest moon –
walking around the pond
all night long.

As the sound fades,
the scent of the flowers comes up –
the evening bell.

Lightning –
and in the dark
the screech of
a night heron.

Where’s the moon?
As the temple bell is –
sunk in the sea.

Clouds come from
time to time –
and bring to men
a chance to rest
from looking at the moon.

My eyes following
until the bird was
lost at sea
found a small island.

Sick on a journey,
my dreams wander
the withered fields.
Matsuo Basho
Translations: Robert Hass

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