Yūrei are Japanese ghosts, spirits that for whatever reason have been kept from a peaceful afterlife. For centuries they have been a part of Japanese folklore, theatre and visual art, usually depicted dressed in the white burial kimono, with long black hair and without legs, seeming to float just above the ground. Traditionally, upon death, the soul (or “reikon”) awaits the proper burial rites, after which it joins its ancestors and protects the living family. However, if these rites do not take place, or if the soul is driven by powerful emotional conflicts, it can transform into a Yūrei and can bridge the gap between the spirit and physical worlds.
This work for solo flute bridges the gap between pitch and air, sound and silence, incorporating the whispered text of a Japanese love poem. It imagines a restless spirit tied to the physical plane by love that was forbidden, and perhaps betrayed. This Yūrei remains forever caught between two worlds, at once seen yet unseen, heard yet unheard.
Yūrei is dedicated to flutist Mark McGregor with thanks for his invaluable advice. It was made possible through an Artist Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.