Green Hope After Black Rain – Steve Heitzeg

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Product Type: Digital Download

Format: Full Score

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Composer: Steve Heitzeg

Instrumentation: 2 (pic)-2-2-3/4-2-3-1/timp, 3 per/harp/str

Duration: Approx. 15 minutes

Date Written: 2021

Commissioned by: Commissioned by The Saint Paul Civic Symphony, Jeffrey Stirling, Music Director, in celebration of the orchestra’s 75th season

Premiered by: The Saint Paul Civic Symphony Jeffrey Stirling, Music Director & conductor Landmark Center Saint Paul, MN May 8, 2022

Additional Information:


I. Pilgrimage to Manzanar (a set of variations against injustice)

Marked “Forced Removal,” the piece opens with an ominous procession
for full orchestra heralded by the sound of stones from Manzanar and a Taiko drum. Building in intensity, we reach the brutal “At the Entrance to the Manzanar Internment Camp.” What follows is the more ethereal and introspective “Ireito (Soul Consoling Tower) involving harp, flute, glockenspiel, temple bell and sandpaper blocks in 5/8 meter. “At the Grave of Baby Toshiro ‘Jerry’ Ogata” is a deep and soaring elegy for the lives lost at Manzanar Internment Camp. The next variation “Remembering Manzanar (Nidoto Nai Yoni: ‘Let it not happen again’)” brings back the opening theme, this time more troubled and with a sense of urgency and protest. The movement closes with “the ghosts of Manzanar”—an eerie section for static strings, twittering woodwinds, stones, and xylophone with the timpanist slowly dropping dried mushrooms and dried cherry blossoms from an A-Bombed tree in Hiroshima on the drumhead of one of the timpani—this being an organic and natural act of protest against the unnatural act of dropping the Atomic bombs (and the ensuing mushroom clouds) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

II. Wind of No Return (for the Hibakusha—the A-bombed People)

A simple and lyrical adagio for solo flute, solo clarinet, a string of origami peace cranes, two stones from Hiroshima and strings, this movement’s title takes its name from the hauntingly beautiful sculpture “A-bomb Victim—the Monument of Hiroshima” by Hisashi Akutagawa. One percussionist gently rustles origami peace cranes throughout this movement. The movement is in two panels, the first being marked “Nuclear Shadows”—a reference to the black shadows of humans and objects created by the atomic blasts over both Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. Here the solo flute and clarinet are in call and response, as if a shadow of each other, over the strings’ sustained and timeless chords. In a symbolic gesture to the inspirational story of Sadako Sasaki—the young Japanese girl who was two when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and who died of Leukemia when she was 12— there are 1000 notes in this movement (the strings and stones account for 921 notes with the remainder of notes coming from the free-flowing rustling of the paper cranes). In Japanese folklore the crane, a sacred bird, is believed to live for a thousand years. The folklore holds that people who are sick might become well again if they fold 1000 origami cranes. While sick in the hospital, Sadako folded 644 origami cranes before she died. Her classmates and friends folded the remainder and all of the 1000 origami cranes were buried with her. The movement closes with “Toward One Thousand Origami Cranes” (a sonic protest against nuclear weapons), an intense string pattern pitched in A minor (for A-bombed), marked fff and with the percussionist tapping and rubblng two stones from Hiroshima.

III. Seeds of Peace (for the Hibakujumoku—the A-bombed Trees of Hiroshima and Nagasaki)

This movement is in four sections. The opening section, “Dance of the Seeds”, is a hopeful, mixed meter dance for full orchestra honoring the seeds from A-bombed trees in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Percussionists play Gingko seed pods, fallen branches and Eucalyptus leaves from A-bombed trees in Hiroshima. “Among Sacred Trees” and “Witness of the Trees” are two processions with a button gong, Tam-tam and chimes marking time with the full orchestra. A brief 21-note interlude, “Kayoko’s Cherry Trees”, honors Tsue Hayashi’s 21-day search for her daughter Kayoko, who was killed in the bombing of Nagasaki. The closing coda, “The Healing of Leaves”, is a gentle and reflective passage for solo flute, harp and strings. The piece concludes with the sound of Gingko seeds, fallen branches, Eucalyptus leaves and low strings spelling out a
D-flat major chord. 


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