A section of the symphony, Kyr's tenth, will be performed on the bombing's 60th anniversary, next August. The full work will debut in two years.
The work calls for vocal soloists, a full orchestra, and a chorus that includes children; Kyr, who says the project is "intercultural," is also incorporating such Japanese elements as taiko drums and Noh chanting into the work. The symphony's text is the result of a collaboration between Kyr and writer Kazuaki Tanahashi, who initiated the project.
The four movements of the symphony evoke, in order, a normal day in Nagasaki right before the attack, the suffering of the surviving victims, a lament for the dead with a prayer for peace, and, finally, an encouragement to make a commitment for worldwide peace.
The final movement recalls Nagasaki's Citizens' Peace Charter, which calls on the people of the world to work together, so that Nagasaki will the last city ever to suffer the effects of such an attack.
Kyr, a composer on the University of Oregon faculty since 1990, has written previous commissions for New England Philharmonic, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Ensemble PAN, Radcliffe Choral Society, the Fires of London, and the Debussy Trio. He is the director of the UO's Pacific Rim Gamelan and the Vanguard Concert Series, as well as the Music Today Festival.