|“Pearls of Greek music” 2014: Kalomiris & Psathas|
“Pearls of Greek music” 2014 will pay tribute to the work of Manolis Kalomiris, the “father” of the Greek composing school, and John Psathas, the great Greek composer who lives and teaches in New Zealand. Five European premieres of works by John Psathas will be performed in the 2nd Part of the concert of April 9th 2014 at the attendance of the composer himself: two works for Violin and Piano, one work for solo Guitar and two works for Piano Trio (Piano, Violin, Cello). In the 1st Part of the concert the famous Piano Trio of Manolis Kalomiris will be performed.
MANOLIS KALOMIRIS (1883-1962): Born in Smyrna, he attended school in Constantinople and studied piano and composition in Vienna. After working for a few years as a piano teacher in Kharkov (then Russia and now Ukraine) he settled in Athens. An admirer of Richard Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Kostis Palamas, and Nikos Kazantzakis, he set himself the life goal of establishing a Greek "national school" of music, based on the ideas of the Russian national composers, on western musical achievements and on modern Greek folk music, poetry and myth. He thus founded in 1919 the Hellenic Conservatory and in 1926 the National Conservatoire. He wrote three symphonies and five operas, one piano concerto and one violin concertino, other symphonic works, chamber music and numerous songs and piano works. He held various public posts and was elected member of the Academy of Athens. A passionate composer, he has a personal post romantic idiom characterised by his rich harmonies and orchestrations, complex counterpoint, his long eastern melodies and the frequent use of Greek folk rhythms. A preoccupation with love and death transcends all five of his music dramas.
JOHN PSATHAS (born 1966) is a New Zealand composer, son of Greek immigrant parents. He has works in the repertoire of such high profile musicians as Evelyn Glennie, Michael Houstoun, Michael Brecker, Joshua Redman and the New Juilliard Ensemble, and is one of New Zealand's most frequently performed composers. He has established an international profile and receives regular commissions from organisations in New Zealand and overseas.Psathas grew up in Taumarunui and then Napier. He attended Napier Boys' High school and left early to study composition and piano at Victoria University of Wellington. He supported himself as a student partly by playing up to nine gigs a week in a jazz trio. Psathas studied further with composer Jacqueline Fontyn in Belgium before returning to New Zealand, where he has since lectured in music at Victoria University and continued to fulfil a busy schedule of commissions. Early success came with Matre's Dance in 1991, a maximum-energy duet for percussion and piano that has since made Psathas' name internationally through having been taken up and championed by percussionist Evelyn Glennie. This work and Drum Dances are fast becoming standard repertoire for percussionists throughout the world. According to his publisher Promethean Editions, a new work by John Psathas is an individual, unique entity, and his music is like that of no-one else. His 'sound' is difficult to define – the harmony and improvisational feel of jazz, the compelling rhythmic drive and excitement of rock music and the sustained repetitive textures of minimalism are apparent as influences, yet they combine and intermingle with something else more intangible. This undefinable quality is partly what makes his one of the most original voices in the arena of contemporary classical music in New Zealand. Psathas' relationship with Evelyn Glennie has been a particularly fruitful one for them both. Her performing repertoire includes Matre's Dance, Drum Dances, Spike, Happy Tachyons and the double concerto for piano and percussion View From Olympus. She has recorded Matre's Dance on her CDs Drumming and Greatest Hits (BMG), and she continues to commission new works. A highlight of 2000 was the premiere of the Omnifenix at an outdoor concert before an audience of 8000 people at the 2 Agosto Festival in Bologna, Italy. This work was tailored to the particular improvising talents of tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. A retrospective concert of Psathas' chamber music was given in the 2000 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts, culminating with the premiere of the specially commissioned Piano Quintet. In the programme to the concert, he described the process of creating his music: "When I write music, it's not a sense of inventing I experience, as much as it is a sense of finding something that exists at the remote periphery of what I know. It is like seeing things – that aren't really there – in the corner of one's eye, but not spinning around to view them, because then they would simply cease to be. It is a case of being aware of a thing in one's peripheral vision and, while staring straight ahead, trying to decipher, without looking at it, the true nature of what it is. What one is finding is exactly the right thing for any given moment in a musical work."