Commissioned in 2011 by the Zushi High School in Kanagawa, Japan for their 90th year establishment commemoration.
"It is very different in some ways: very sad at the beginning, then a little 'daylight' in the middle before the 'dark clouds' come back at the end." (James Barnes)
It is one thing to read about a tragedy or to see footage of the aftermath of such an event; it is an entirely different thing to actually witness something as horrifying as a tsunami when it is actually happening. Having been to Japan over thirty-five times in my career, I know how well Japan prepares for earthquakes and tsunamis. But this time it was completely different: these waves were so huge that they consumed everything in their path. I watched the television coverage with tears in my eyes. It was so sad to see such a tragic event happen to one of my favorite places in the world. But when nature takes over, human beings have no control.
When composing A Prayer for Higashi Nihon, I made no attempt to describe this disaster; that would have been in poor taste. Besides, it would have been impossible to portray such a horrible thing. I decided instead to compose a threnody, a solemn prayer, for all the victims of this horrible event, many whom were never found. Even then, I could not help but remember how horrified I was while watching those waves. It is something I shall never forget.