In Japan, the cherry blossom (sakura) is widely celebrated. It is symbolic of rebirth – springtime, hope, optimism – but is also a reminder of the impermanence of life. Its beauty is wonderful yet fleeting. Having lived in Tokyo and experienced Hanami – the flower ‘viewing’ or celebration of sakura – violinist/vocalist/composer Seonaid Aitken has drawn a parallel with this season to her life now in Scotland. After a serious accident, Seonaid found herself unable to walk and was forced to slow down and focus on her wellbeing.
During a lengthy and isolated recovery due to lockdown she was able to explore her local surroundings and discover the transformative and healing powers of nature. As both mind and body gradually healed, she found a new perspective. Through jazz, classical and folk idioms, Seonaid’s musical suite ‘Chasing Sakura’ – originally commissioned by Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival in 2021 – was written for a hand-picked ensemble of string quintet and saxophone/flute. Featuring cross-genre and improvising musicians, it follows the lifespan of the cherry blossom and explores the themes of a fleeting but beautiful life, lived to the fullest.