Hashima Refrain is the final part in a triptych of works beginning with Letter to Michael (2014), followed by Ne Reminiscaris (2017), which I have written for Chamber Choir Ireland and Paul Hillier.
The text for Hashima Refrain comes from two sources - a poem found graffitied on a wall of the abandoned Hashima Island in Japan, and the final entry of the 10th century text Sarashina Nikki, a memoir of a lady in waiting during the Heian Period of Japanese history.
Somewhere in my tangled mind I began to think of the writer of the lines from Sarashina Nikki as a different embodiment of the same persona who wrote the lines of the first piece in the triptych, Letter to Michael, now reflecting at the end of their life. In fact, I started to see the three pieces of the triptych as perhaps the expression of a single consciousness in three states of being - anticipation/ longing, the absolute present, and finally, looking back. Musically, it’s a kind of long journey in search of a fluid form of self-expression.
My hope is that once the music reaches the very simple setting of the poem at the end of Hashima Refrain, some kind of catharsis has been achieved.
Hashima Refrain will be premièred on 16 November in Kilkenny by the Chamber Choir Ireland. Further performances, as part of their upcoming tour, are scheduled for 17.11. in Dublin, Ireland and 18.11. in Belfast in Great Britain.
Paul Hillier on a triptych Letter to Michael (2014), Ne Reminicaris (2017) and Hashima Refrain: (video clip: courtesy and © Chamber Choir Ireland)