One minute can last a lifetime. And life can change completely in one minute, whether it's love at first sight ... or death. As I did with my previous piece which last for even less than a minute, the Theme for Eric & Ananda Classical Eve, I now write again for my newest one, 1 minute for Japan.
Just as Spain was commemorating the March 11 terrorist attack (and I tweeted about it in the morning of that date still in bed of my hotel room in Zaragoza; you can check my twitter timeline on that date), a huge earthquake (which turned out to be the 5th most powerful since earthquakes could be measured) and the tsunami as its consequence happened in northern Japan. I first learned about it from several tweets just after I finished tweeting about the Madrid bombing commemoration, but as the tweets got more intense, so I turned on the television. And what I saw was (an unfortunate) history.
Those days I was rehearsing with the orchestra of Cadaques; we were preparing the weird but attractive Concertino for piano & ensemble by Czech composer Leos Janacek, as well as "Bitacora", a fascinating piece for piano & strings by Spanish composer Jesus Rueda. After we performed them in Zaragoza we all travelled together by train to Madrid (Zaragoza is 1,5 hours by fast train from Madrid). On the train, 2 days after the tsunami happened, I watched on TV the terrible impact it did to the Japanese people, land and most scaringly to the nuclear reactors. Not as usual travellings with companeros musicians full of laughs & jokes, this time was a somber one; we all watched TV and talked about it. All those sufferings triggered a melancholic feeling, so I took off my earphones and isolated myself to an empty seat at the back since something in my head started to sound. It turned out to be a simple melody, and even its instrumentation isn't so exact. So I wrote it down, and "1 minute for Japan" became a tune with an accompaniment of just long notes underneath it. The first version of it is for piano left hand alone, and I might use it as a material for a bigger piece in the future.
At home several days later I copied it neatly and played it on the piano. It sounded like a strange Japanese not-so-Dorian mode. I guess the very Spanish landscape of grassy plain savannas outside the train window did influence something on the piece. There is a kind of Copland-esque open-air-ness in it. Again, as in my observation with my other pieces, this one scarily reflected candidly what I felt at that time, which couldn't be expressed by words.
Although not written in the score, I had in mind while writing "1 minute for Japan" my Japanese musician friends who have worked with me in the past, such as pianist Kazuha Nakagara who premiered 2 of my Etudes (and yes, I will keep my promise to write a 6th etude for her) and Midori Goto, the world famous violinist who commissioned and performed many times my 5-minute string quartet "Lontano", as well as many other dear Japanese friends. The real dedicatees of my piece are obviously the numerous victims out there in Japan. I would like to ask the listeners of "1 minute for Japan" to pray during the duration of the piece (which turned out to be just a bit more than 1 minute) for the souls of the victims. That's the least we can do to them. So they can Rest in Peace.
I think the score of 1 minute for Japan will be included in "Alicia's Second Piano Book", but I am giving it for free to anyone who wants to play it. Just tweet me at @anandasukarlan .