Toru Takemitsu From me flows what you call Time for fi ve percussionists and orchestra The composer writes… The words ‘From me fl ows what you call Time’ come from a poem by Makoto Ooka entitled Clear Blue Water (translated into English by Ooka and Thomas Fitzsimmons). I fi rst read this poem after I had been commissioned by Carnegie Hall to compose a work in commemoration of its 100th anniversary. When I read the words ‘From me fl ows what you call Time’, I suddenly imagined one hundred years of time fl owing through the man-made space, so full of special meaning, called Carnegie Hall. It was as if I could hear the Hall murmuring from the numberless cracks between the layers of those years, ‘From me fl ows what you call Time’. Thus, the ‘me’ in the title is meant to be ‘Carnegie Hall’, not the composer. The terms of the commission from Carnegie Hall were that I compose a work forthe percussion group Nexus and the Boston SymphonyOrchestra. In From me fl ows what you call Time, the number fi ve is dominant and aff ects the construction of the entire work. The principal motif is composed of fi ve tones within a perfect fi fth, which gives birth to various sub-species as the work progresses. Nexus is made up of fi ve superb musicians. I based my decision to use the number fi ve as the keynote of the composition more than anything else on these fi ve individual performers. As soon as I had chosen the number fi ve as the principal motif of the work, I immediately recalled the Tibetan ‘Wind Horse’ (rlung-rta). The ‘Wind Horse’ is a custom observed by the highland nomads of Tibet when they migrate in search of new land. Used like divination during a ceremony, it consists of fi ve cloth streamers, each a diff erent colour, strung up on a rope, and left to wave in the wind. Blown by the seasonal winds, the myriad wind-horses then point out the way the nomads must take to fi nd the location of their new life. The fi ve colours of the cloth streamers – white, blue, red, yellow, green – each have separate meanings, and are the same as the colours emitted by the fi ve Buddhas who sit at the centre of a mandala. Blue is the symbol of water, red of fi re, yellow of the earth, green of the wind, and white, as the colour created by combining the other four, signifi es the sky, the air, the heavens, and fi nally ‘nothingness’. In this work the role of each of the fi ve soloists corresponds to one of the fi ve colours of the ‘Wind Horse’. 10 sydney symphony Keynotes TAKEMITSU Born Tokyo, 1930 Died Tokyo, 1996 Toru Takemitsu was largely self-taught as a composer, beginning his studies during convalescence from tuberculosis. He heard his first Western music during military service in the mid-1940s: a recording of a French song ‘Parlez-moi d’amour’, which prompted him to seek out more Western music and take up composition. The result is a creative voice within the Western tradition but deeply influenced by traditional Japanese music. He claimed French composer Claude Debussy as a mentor and, like Debussy, he was fascinated by instrumental sounds and colour effects. In 1959 Stravinsky heard and admired Takemitsu’s Requiem for strings, bringing him international attention. FROM ME FLOWS WHAT YOU CALL TIME The ‘me’ of the title is a space – Carnegie Hall – and this work was composed to celebrate the hall’s centenary. It was dedicated to the percussion ensemble Nexus, for whom it remains a signature work, and Takemitsu’s friend, the conductor Seiji Ozawa. This visually stimulating work features a vast array of percussion instruments, both familiar and exotic. Most striking of all is the way chimes are suspended high in the auditorium and controlled by coloured ribbons. The music is performed without a pause but is in 13 sections, which Takemitsu names at the end of his program note.