On empathy towards transient things
Making tea: what a nice way to contemplate various life cycles at a glance! Listening to the simmering water, gazing at the unfolding leaves, smelling the extracting aromas. Then, exploring the taste, the texture, the after-taste. Finally, observing the many imperfections of the earthenware, and of the hand that holds it, and of the passing moment that erodes everything: so much beauty within these infinite nuances, when one takes the time to dwell upon them.
As Okakura Kakuzō said so eloquently in The Book of Tea (1906): “The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power. The world is groping in the shadow of egotism and vulgarity. Knowledge is bought through a bad conscience, benevolence practiced for the sake of utility. The East and the West, like two dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in vain strive to regain the jewel of life. We need a Niuka again to repair the grand devastation; we await the great Avatar. Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”
Mono no aware was realized in 2013 in the composer’s studio and the studios of the University of Huddersfield (England, UK) and premiered by Jean-François Laporte on 1 June 2013 during the concert Totem électrique V in Salle multimédia of the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal (Québec).
The piece was commissioned by Productions Totem contemporain. Thanks to Sylvain Pohu and Jean Piché who made the sound recording possible. P-A Tremblay
The current version was recorded by Jean-François Laporte in the multitrack studio of the Faculté de musique of the Université de Montréal on 2 June 2013.