The Five Continents
World premiere of Ronen Shapira’s The Five Continents – A Piano and Synthesizer Concerto, written for pianist Revital Hachamoff.
The composition explores the theme of international harmony and partnership, asking the question can we really communicate?
The piece starts with Morse signals and has loving and melodic episodes as well as destructive and violent moments,
Using conflict and resolution to demonstrate both the diversity and unity of humanity through music.
The piece reflects upon the musical traditions and interactions of the five world regions (the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania). It is written for a string orchestra with a piano soloist who also plays non–tempered electronic keyboards.
In addition, the composition calls for ethnic instruments from around the world.
The piece is part of a tonal and non-tempered series of pieces that combines scores that move in various tempos.
Most of the composition is in one time dimension and written in classical traditional notation, but there is an extensive modern use of Eastern elements (1/4 tones and micro-tones).
In two multi-speed episodes, the instruments fight and merge, creating tension and resolution. The piece has melodic, simple expressive parts but these dissolve into parallel microtonal scales and non-tempered scales.
The second part of The Five Continents – A Piano and Synthesizer Concerto will also include narration of philosophical and scientific texts edited by Israeli-Iraqi poet Ronny Somek, as well as a “Wild Prayer” composing game.
The piece ends with birds singing as a sign of freedom, along with video art by Ziv Yonatan and Lily Rattok.
Additional collaborators include distinguished composers Amnon Wolman, William Bolcom, Andre Hajdu, Micha Shitrit and Berry Sakharof; the Ruth Kanner Theater; vocal artist Rachel Joy Weiss; poets Ronny Someck, Karen Alkalay-Gut, and Rachel Quastel; rock artist Haim Rachmani; Dr. David Senesh, Ronel Keren, Tahel Klein, Hadas Arazi, and Assael Helman.
The main motive of the The Five Continents – A Piano and Synthesizer Concerto was written to the American artist Jennifer Waleczek. The wide use of collaboration in this piece relates to the words of the Israeli philosopher Yehuda Atai, “We are together, therefore I am.”
Hell Screen - Theater X Tokyo
Non Tempered Japanese Opera
The opera is wriiten on a modern oriental non tempered scale invented by the composer.
A story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
Libreto: Syo Irichi
Director: Ida Kuniaki
Music: Ronen Shapira
Hatakayema Shigeru Lord – Bass
Tanigawa yoshuki Yoshihide – Tenor
Nakanishi san Chief – Bariton
Konno Yukeri – son of lord, Alt
Sayuri Aramaki – Daughter Sopran
Mutsumoto Kuni – Tenor
Arai kengl – Tenor Minori / Ota sopran
Toyoma Miki – Soprano
Hata san Viola Kosei san as Monkey
Commissioned by Misako Ueda.
“Hell Screen” is a story about a king, an “Ugly” painter and his beautiful daughter.
Hell Screen is narrated by an uninvolved servant who witnesses or hears of the events.
The plot of Hell Screen centers on the artist Yoshihide. Yoshihide is often commissioned to create works for the Lord of Horikawa, who also employs Yoshihide’s daughter in his mansion. When Yoshihide is instructed to create a folding screen depicting the Buddhist hell, he proceeds to inflict tortures upon his apprentices, so he can see what he is trying to paint. Supernatural forces seem to be present; one time, Yoshihide speaks in a devilish voice. The story climaxes when Yoshihide asks the lord to burn a beautiful lady in a carriage so he can finish the screen. The lord concedes, but, in a macabre twist, Yoshihide must watch as his daughter Yuzuki and her monkey are the ones who burn. The story ends with the magnificently horrible screen completed, and Yoshihide’s suicide by hanging.