Yoshié Ichige and Star Music

Many twentieth century composers have written atonal music; being "contemporary" has often involved a rejection of tonality. Yoshié Ichige attempts in her own way to create contemporary music. Her compositions remain mostly tonal. She uses special acoustics, echo effects, free arrangement and placement of the orchestra and choir, or other innovations.

The music of Ichige is related to "Culture of Silence". Everywhere in her music it can be found, but a certain attitude towards the music is necessary in order to understand it. One can take an example from literature to illustrate this point. There are poetic forms - called Haiku and Tanka - in which entire worlds of feelings are expressed in short words. Like a flash, like a photograph of a single moment. In Haiku, for example, a scene may be described in which a leaf falls from a tree onto the surface of a pond. Ripples emanate from the point where the leaf settles. There is stillness all around deep in the mountains. When the poet observes this event, he searches amongst the quiet to feel the breath of eternity. Motifs such as those in these short poems are often hidden in Ichige's music. A motif can consist of only two notes, it can be a simple interval of a second. Such short musical poems exist in her music. There one must listen carefully for both these notes, just as the poet listens in the stillness for the ripples caused by the leaf settling on the surface of the pond.

Starvoice "Light-Star-Fantasy" (CD 3/4)

concert halls and planetariums throughout the world

Composition: 1991 - 1993
Text: Yoshié Ichige

Visual, acoustic fantasy of the world of stars, musical utopia, romance of the stars' songs, presentation of stars - a harmonic whole consisting of aesthetic, science and humanity

The program consists of 11 pieces of music
Universe • In the Distance of Space • The Secret of the Universe • Promenade of Stars • Star Love • Kaleidoscope • Moon Princess • The Milky Way • Storms in the Darkness • The Desert of the Universe • Eternity - Infinity - the Prayer

Astronomical motifs such as a starry sky, the galaxy, a star cluster, the aurora borealis, the moon, the earth, the sun, the planets have been combined in a phantastic video by using state-of-the-art technologies. A creative cooperation with the Czech painter Zdenek Hajny has grown and also his paintings are shown in the video. They radiate harmony and a deep stillness. In each of his works there shines the &inner light", in the same way as Ichige's compositions express the "inner sound" ausdrücken.

A Little Magic Bird (CD 2)

Bravura Variations for Flute and Voice

Composition: 1988 / 1991
Text: Yoshié Ichige

This suite transports the listeners into the dreamlike world of the magic bird. Between people and the bird there develops a bridge of empathy.

In 1988 Yoshié Ichige composed the suite "A Little Magic Bird" and gave its premiere at a song recital at the Vienna Concert House. The suite in its completed form - six movements with intermezzo - was first performed in 1992 in the "Neues Schloss" in Stuttgart. Performances followed at the Dresdner Music Festival, at a gala concert in the Palais Auersperg in Vienna, at a song recital in Munich, and elsewhere, and all were recieved enthusiastically. The music was composed in the key of g minor; the main elements of the melody are based on the Japanese pentatonic, and the main themes are developed in the form of variations. In the sixth movement (The Return Home), all the main themes are heard again. Although the suite consists of bravura variations for voice and flute, the aesthetic character of Japan - including its simplicity and its quiet reserve, which stems from an inner calmness - is emphasized here. In the fourth movement - a piano solo - Yojo- motifs can be heard, creating a world of moods and feelings which reaches far beyond words.

Opera "The Magic Veil" an Opera based on a Japanese legend (CD 5)

A Japanese opera based an a famous legend from the Miho coast. The climax of the opera is the dance scene of the heavenly being with the magic veil.

Composition: 1989
Text: Yoshié Ichige

In central Japan there is a city called Shimizu. For one hundred years it has been associated with a beautiful beach from which one can look directly at Mount Fujiyama. This coast has, up to now, remained in its natural state. There is a constant flow of visitors from all over Japan who come to admire the coastline.

There is a famous legend concerning this area. Already, several Japanese composers have written of this legend in a somewhat traditional style. Even a French composer was so enthused by it, that she wrote a play about it and presented it in France.

The legend goes as follows: As in everyday life, children play on the beach. Fisherman work diligently and peace and quiet pervaid. The sky is a sparkling blue, the pine trees are green, the sea is wide, and the waves reflect a glistening silver. In the background is the majestic Mount. Fujiyama, the "holy mountain". The landscape is divinely beautiful.

A heavenly being in the form of a woman floats through the air, looking down upon this coast, She is ethused by its beauty and glides downward to take a short break. In order to fly she wears a beautiful long veil instead of wings. Since she is alone, she hangs her veil on a pine branch so that she can wander about.

Coincidentally, a fishermann discovers the coast and the veil. He is especially happy upon finding the veil since it is the most beautiful thing he has seen in his life. He wishes to take it and display it in his home. But then the woman comes back and asks the man to give it back to her since she can't fly without it and can therefore never return to the heavens. At first, the fisherman hesitates, but in the end he is touched by her plea and returns the veil to her. Out of gratitude, she grants him a favor and shows him the heavenly dance which no earthly being may view. While he is in a trance of enjoyment, the heavenly being floats into the air gliding into heavenly eternity.

The opera "The Magic Veil" was composed for the ocassion of the 120th anniversary of the Austrian-Japanese Friendship in 1989 and was premiered in Vienna's Palais Auersperg.

Sunset Glow (CD1)

Enthusiasm for the beauty of the evening glow on the Pacific near Fujiyama, Melancholy during the waning of this beautiful moment.

Text: Yoshié Ichige

Choir for nine voices, interposed with synthesizer and echo effects (Rich Plate). The sunsets which one can experience in the area of Fujiyama on the Pacific Ocean are of a unique beauty. The colors are stunningly strong: pink, orange, red, and violet hues. The sky is covered in these glorious colors for as far as the eye can see. Mount Fuji, the holy mountain, towers three thousand meters over the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. In this powerful panorama the blue shades of the sky melt together with the radiant sunset in a unique play of colors. The song depicts the beauty of this fiery sunset and expresses sadness at its fleeting nature .

Ballad "Moonlight" (CD1)

"Dream - The Arabian Nights"

Composition: 1st.,4th. part: 1967 - 2nd. part: 1979 - 3rd. part: 1988
Text: Yoshié Ichige

Romantic ballad about the beauty of the moon. Sounds of harp, voice and flute unfold a dreamlike scene in the silver moonlight. The ballet of"Moonlight" creates a unique atmospere which casts a spell over the audience, partically if performed in a natural setting in the evening.

Part 1: A girl sits at her window and is fascinated by the beauty of the moonlight.
Part 2: (vocalise) Her enthusiasm grows. She deeply admires the moonlight.
Part 3: The girl falls asleep and dreams about "The Arabian Nights" . In her dream she imagines herself to be a fairy tale princess and dances somewhat uncertainly to the Arabian harp music. An Arabian magician appears and repeats the magic spell "Marfusch, Harfusch".
Part 4: The theme melodies return. One describes how happily the young girl sleeps in the silvery moonlight.

Eternal Love - The Flute of Longing (CD1)

The hidden love of a Japanese woman who lived in ancient Japan.

Composition: 1977
Text: ancient Japanese poems and secret language

Poems from the ancient imperial court serve as the basis of the text in this song. A text has been added to the poems to clarify them; this text is written in a kind of secret language in order to preserve the mysterious and hidden aspects of love, which cannot be expressed in everyday language and which should be protected from being heard and understood by others. The piece is like a "lied" and multi-versed, while the melody and harmony remain fairly unchanged. The form of the verses vary and are dynamicaly fashioned while the general construction of the music is very dramatic; and so, Ichige successfully expresses in this piece the passion of a Japanese woman and her ability to withstand suffering.

The Ball Game Song (CD1)

Japanese children like to play ball and they happily sing as they play.

Composition: 1988, for the occasion of a cultural fellowship concert for Munich and dedicated to the then mayor Kronawitter
Text: Yoshié Ichige

Japanese children - particularly girls - used to play with colorful balls. They bounce the ball on the ground while singing happily. They also played a nice game in which they would lift their leg over the ball while keeping the ball bouncing with their hand and counting how many times they succeeded. This scene is depicted in "The Ball Game Song".

In the middle part of the song the ball rolls away from its owner and "travels" alone into the wide world. "Which adventures will it experience?" At the end of the song the ball returns to its owner. Everyone is happy and shouts with joy!

Song Cycle "Longing for Ancient Japan" (CD1)

Reawakening of a Japanese lyric from the old empirial age of Japan. In this song cycle, old Japanese poems are melodically recited.

Composition: 1987
Text: ancient Japanese poems

In the song cycle "Longing for Ancient Japan", poems from the ancient imperial court are recited melodically. The stage should be adorned with a decorative panel and blossoming trees, in order to recreate the atmosphere of the ancient imperial world. The singer should create a corresponding aesthetic world through her movements and steps. The piano does not serve as an accompaniment in this song cycle; its role is as important as that of the singer. Voice, piano, movement, costumes, stage, etc. should blend into one, recreating the aesthetic courtly world. With its mysterious power, the music evokes an inner sound which enables the imperial world and its literature to be reborn.

Songs of Youth (CD1)

Composition: 1968-69
Text: Yoshié Ichige

Whilst one generally categorises music as secular or sacred, Ichige distinguishes her compositions in a totally individual way: secular and "Seîshin-music". The central theme in different Japanese arts, is the "inner harmony" and "spiritual strength" grown from self discipline. "Seîshin-music" should be understood in a similar way. The "attitude of mind" plays just as important a role as the pure musical value.

The poems for her "Songs of Youth" have been written by the then twelve-year-old Ichige. Here one recognizes that the contents and sense are grown from the Japanese spiritual tradition. Even though, from the musical aspect, the composition is tonal and not typically traditional, one can clearly sense the attitude of mind from which the song originated. The concept of "Seîshin-music" is very individualistic, but it is just this individualism that is derived from spiritual tradition and is its fruit.

Weeds - Beauty by the Wayside
The Power of Youth
The Song of Life

Suite "Metamorphosis of the Pentatonic" (CD 5)

Musical painting of the "inner sound" for voice and piano

Composition: 1988
Text: Yoshié Ichige

This suite is a kind of musical resonance painting; its text deals with "Reincarnation": the sound of the flute, which seems to come from the far distance, awakes the individual's dark remembrance of a former life. One falls into a trance and melts into the sounds and colors of the music. From within one hears the tone of the flutes resounding from the distant past: stormy, unclear memories of an earlier life press themselves to the fore. The piece ends with the questions: "Was my former life so sad? What have I experienced in my former life...?!" In contrast to impressionist painting, which deals with impressions - surface light -, this music is the painting of inner sound. "Pentatonic calls me" says the composer, "I'm strongly drawn to the fifth. Deep within myself I hear something, I feel something. I don't know exactly what it is, but the mysterious magical power of pentatonic awakes in me an inner sound that could lead me back to the origins.

The Melancholic Flute
Andante sostenuto - Allegro

Spring Dream

Impression of an Earlier Life - Reincarnation
Andante sostenuto - Allegro Tempesto

Vienna Forest Song

(Japanese Title: Wien no Mori no Uta)

Composition: 1988
Text: Yoshié Ichige

Yoshié Ichige also applies her artistic quality in the cultural fellowship of international cultural exchange. The world premiere of the new video of "Vienna Forest Song" took place on June 19, 2005 in the music-metropolis Vienna, at palais Ferstel. "Vienna Forest Song" shows the capital of music, Vienna, with its beautiful Vienna Forest with a positive image. Vienna became Yoshié Ichiges favorite dwelling place, a type of second home between concert tours and related activities.

"Vienna Forest - paradise of birds,
Vienna, capital of music, which I love.
surrounded by green oasis
is my favorite town."

Lullaby in the Ocean of the Universe

Composition: 1991, 1995-1996
Text: Yoshié Ichige

For voice, piano, choir, synthesizer and percussion instruments. This Star Music consists of 4 movements. The 4th movement is often performed as a ballet and is therefore known as "Ballett Ocean of the Universe". The most interesting detail of this composition is its completely different character to Starvoice "Light-Star-Fantasy", although both works originate from the same source of inspiration. For Yoshié Ichige it is important that in performing "Lullaby in the Ocean of the Universe" the natural tones of the instruments and the singing voice are retained.

Birds in the Danube Floodplains

Composition: beg. 1999
Text: Yoshié Ichige

Yoshié Ichige always saw nature as an instructor of composition. Since her childhood, nature was the source of energy for her creativity. When she moved in to her composing studio on the Danube in Vienna, she made music with the birds, sang with the birds. She analyzed, above all, the courtship songs of many songbirds, for example, tits, blackbirds and starlings. From this came the first composition “Bird in the Danube Floodplains”. Here, Ichige freed herself from existing music theory and musical terms developed by human beings. The composition series is currently in progression.


Composition: 2006 - 2008
Lyrics/Music: Yoshié Ichige

If one sits relaxed and unhurried at the water's edge, be it by a lake or by the sea, and simply looks in the water – the water's reflection of light, waves, subsurface..., then time passes swiftly in such a moment. One suddenly dives into a fantasy world and forgets everyday life. Listening to the composition “Trance” is similar. “Trance” is not like a normal composition that the audience passively listens to at a concert, but rather one during which every listener in the auditorium can imagine their own fantasy.

Children often tell their parents full of excitement, that they see different figures when they look at the sky: a cloud that looks like a fish, or then an animal, or a person's face and so on. The clouds float by and, as they do so, the figures change from one to the next. At such moment one forgets time and is enraptured by the fascinating transformation of the clouds.

The musical composition “Trance” is in two parts. There is an intermission between part 1. and part 2.. After a piano prelude, part 1. begins with lyrical song. There follows the 1st coloratura section that moves into a dreamy Bel canto vocal. Then comes the 2nd coloratura section and part 1. of “Trance” ends with cello and violin. After a short piano prelude, part 2. of “Trance” begins with a dreamy Bel canto vocal that goes into a streaming, flowing music (“Ryu”- section). Finally, the music finishes with a drumbeat, as if one is suddenly woken from a dream. The word “Ryu” is originally from the Japanese language (translation: flowing or streaming).

On CD 2 of this double-CD, there is only the musical accompaniment without a vocal: as “playback”, in case you would like to sing “Trance”. The composer, Yoshié Ichige, realized as she was creating this opus that: “A person's soul is mirrored in their voice. So, for me, a complete singing voice is connected to the purest soul”.

The history of the creation of Trance

In June 2008 the composition “Trance” was completed: The piano playing and the vocal were performed by the Japanese composer herself and recorded on CD. Martin Ichige created a video animation to the music using motifs from the cosmic paintings of the Czech artist Zdenek Hajný and photographs of the “Cinque Terre”. Prof. Evelyn Téri choreographed the Ballet for the premier performance of “Trance” in the Palais Ferstel in Vienna on 21st June 2008. The CD's cover photograph is of a motif from the Italian nature park “Cinque Terre” and was shot by Martin Ichige. The “Cinque Terre” have extraordinary life and are full of southern vegetation and song birds. Yoshié Ichige had already begun the composition “Trance” in 2006 and the main theme and many other parts of the work were completed in that year. However, her visit to “Cinque Terre” in 2007 broadened her inspiration, and Ichige transcribed nature's liveliness and vitality into her composition “Trance”. The two coloratura sections of “Trance”, for example, were created immediately following the visit to “Cinque Terre”. The wonderful choir of birdsong from there is represented in the heavenly Bel canto song. The azure blue sea, crystal clear water, waves glittering in the sun, blossoming trees, cacti along the beloved hiking trail “Via dell'amore”... As Martin and Yoshié Ichige ate peacefully at a Café on the “Via dell'amore”, two seagulls happily flew into the bay. These are the subject of the cover photograph of the seagulls and other photographs of the sea.

Further works:

"Eternal Light (CD7)", "Crystals' World" (CD 6), "Cosmo-Bell" (CD 6), "Omoideno Santa Marinella", "Longing", "Heavenly Sounds", "Night of Shining Memories", "Shimizu - Our Town", "Our Festival", "Forest of Love", "Rain Song", "Spring Night", "Ninna Nanna", "World of Michael Lesehr", "Golden Wedding", "One Day a Bird came to me", "Festival - Happy beeing together", "Song of the Caveman".