Musashi

Program Notes
Miyamoto Musashi, a seventeenth century ronin of legendary renown, is the founder of the Niten-ryu school of swordsmanship. He devoted his life to honing his skills in the Way of the sword, winning dozens of duels. So great was the perfection of his skill that his late duels were fought only with a boken, or wooden sword, regardless of his opponent’s weapon. In 1645, lying ill and near death in a cave where he taken to a hermitic existence, he dictated the key concepts of his Way to a disciple. This document, Go Rin No Sho (“Book of Five Rings”) is still read today as a guide to strategy in any discipline.

Musashi for solo flute, digital audio, and video is guided by excerpts from this work. Musical material is inspired by Honshirabe, a prominent work in shakuhachi repertoire. Throughout the piece, the fixed part is derived from samples of taiko and shakuhachi, the metallic clash and scrape of swords, and a reading of the Fudo-myoo sutra. Elements of taiko performance are also featured in both parts, particularly the concept of oroshi, a gesture in which the interval (or ma) between sonic events is reduced over time.

Musashi contains text from A BOOK OF FIVE RINGS by Miyamoto Musashi, translated by Victor Harris. Copyright © 1974 by Victor Harris. Used by permission of The Overlook Press, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Biographical Sketch
Richard Johnson is a multimedia artist and composer whose interest in music was piqued during a childhood heavily impacted by film. Equal parts Kurosawa and Spielberg combined to create his ongoing interest in culture and history, the music of Takemitsu and Williams, and an obsession with mystery, adventure, and storytelling. This blend of interests is most clearly present in his set of pieces for soloists, electronics, and video entitled Quaerere Sententias.

Richard’s music has been performed throughout the United States and internationally, and has been presented at events such as SEAMUS, Electronic Music Midwest, Electro-Acoustic Barn Dance, SCI conferences, Thailand International Composers’ Festival, and the Festival Internacional Punto de Ecuentro in Spain.

In 2012, Richard received his DMA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City where he studied with Chen Yi, James Mobberley, Paul Rudy, and Zhou Long. He also holds degrees from the Hartt School at University of Hartford (MM) and West Chester University of Pennsylvania (BM).

Richard currently resides in southern California.