Composer Dinos Constantinides’ Concerto World Premiere at Lincoln Center

The Distinguished Concerts Singers International and the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra performing at Lincoln Center's David Geffen Hall. Photo by Dan Wright

NEW YORK – Greek-American composer Dinos Constantinides’ Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra had its World Premiere, courtesy of the Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) Premiere Project, at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in Manhattan on March 17. The premiere was just one part of the Reflections of Light concert which included the Distinguished Concerts Singers International (DCSI) with Martha Shaw, Director, and Carol Joy Sparkman, Accompanist, performing works inspired by the theme in a variety of musical styles to the delight of the audience.

Constantinides’ Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra followed the DCSI. As the composer noted, “My composition Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra, LRC 268b, is written for and dedicated to Iris Derke and DCINY in celebration of their ten-year anniversary in 2018. Iris suggested the work be a companion of the famous Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra by W.A. Mozart, but with Greek ideas against a backdrop of my native country, Greece. I used some materials from my past work in new combinations.

For instance, in the first movement, ‘Reflections,’ a whole tone figure stated by the flute and harp as well as some cadences are drawn from an old work of mine using the poetry of the great contemporary poet Constantine Kavafis. The second movement, ‘Hymn,’ employs the Delphic Hymn, dated from around 200 B.C. and found in Delphi. I used this music for an LSU theatre production of Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex, directed by Bill Harbin. The final movement, ‘Dance,’ is a setting of traditional Greek dances that share their modal quality and lively mixed meter rhythms. In reality, the entire piece is derived from my background as a Greek musician.”

Greek composer Dinos Constantinides was called up on stage after the world premiere of his Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra, with Kirsten Agresta Copely who performed on harp in the piece. Photo by Dan Wright

The Greek influence in the beautiful concerto was certainly evident to those familiar with Constantinides work and also with Greek music. Many observed that the final movement, especially, brought to mind the traditional Greek music and dance in all its vibrancy. Iris Derke on flute and Kirsten Agresta Copely on harp performed skillfully along with the talented musicians of the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra (DCO) under the direction of Jonathan Griffith, DCINY Artistic Director and Principal Conductor.

Constantinides was called on stage to receive the applause of the appreciative audience. During the intermission, he spoke with The National Herald about the piece, noting the Greek influence, naturally, and that it was composed for Iris Derke and to celebrate DCINY’s tenth anniversary. Constantinides’ wife, Judy was also in attendance at the event.

The concert concluded with a dramatic performance of Luigi Cherubini’s Requiem in C by the DCSI and the DCO under the direction of Hilary Apfelstadt, Conductor Laureate.

Constantinides has written over 265 compositions. He was educated in Greece at the Ioannina, Greek, and Athens Conservatories and in the U.S.A. at the Universities of Indiana, Michigan State, and the Juilliard School. His teachers include Tony Schultze, Marios Varvoglis, Yannis Papaioannou, Leda Kouroukli, Olga Menjou, George Lykoudis, Ivan Galamian, Dorothy DeLay, and Josef Gingold. Constantinides was a member of the violin section of the State Orchestra of Athens in Greece for over 10 years, and played in the Indianapolis Symphony and Baton Rouge Symphony (Concertmaster) in the U.S.A for many years. He is presently Boyd Professor, the highest academic rank at Louisiana State University, head of the Composition area, and Music Director of the Louisiana Sinfonietta. This is Constantinides’ tenth appearance with DCINY as composer.

Iris Derke on flute in the world premiere of Greek composer Dinos Constantinides’ Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra, LRC 268b. The work was written for Derke and for DCINY. Photo by Dan Wright