The Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) on May 16 is releasing a new album, titled Synchronos: New Greek Voices, featuring music by living and 20th-century Greek composers. Photo: Courtesy of the Greek Chamber Music Project
NEW YORK – The Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) is releasing a new album that highlights exciting music by living and 20th-century Greek composers. Dropping on May 16, Synchronos: New Greek Voices will feature debut recordings for flute, ghostplate, and other instruments in an eclectic collection of classically-inspired music.
The focus of the release is Talos Dreams, a GCMP commission composed by Costas Dafnis, which explores the concept of made versus born. Inspired by the real and imagined automatons of ancient Greece, this 30-minute work features the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument he built and designed with Bay Area improviser Tom Nunn. Its sonic palette — atmospheric, echoing, wispy, and metallic — sounds remarkably electronic for an acoustic instrument. The ghostplate creates a soundscape that is at once familiar and extraordinary.
Dafnis’ work takes its cues from Gods and Robots, a book by Stanford scholar Adrienne Mayor, revealing that the earliest concepts of automatons, robots and artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece — first in mythology, and later in self-moving devices and robots. The line between human and not human, born vs. built, is an AI concept that’s not only recent, but in fact thousands of years old.
Talos Dreams is commissioned by the Greek Chamber Music Project with generous support from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Faculty Grant.
Costas Dafnis playing the ghostplate. Photo: Costas Dafnis
The album also features music for flute and piano featuring GCMP director and flutist Ellie Falaris Ganelin and pianist Mary-Victoria Voutsas. It will include Grecianas Brasileiras by Dinos Constantinides, Louisiana State University professor of composition. A much-revered composer, his music has been performed around the world, including his native Greece. The piece is a spritely blend of Brazilian rhythms and Greek melodies, aptly capturing the composer’s musical style. The album will also include the debut recording of Four Greek Dances by Georgios Kasassoglou (1908-1984), an award-winning 20th-century composer of art songs, music for the stage, as well as orchestral and chamber music. The music of Kasassoglou has a unique voice that captures the Greek spirit, and Four Greek Dances is no exception.
The album will also feature Ganelin’s own composition, Words of Grief, a melodious waltz for flute, guitar and strings that intuitively transitions between classical, folk and jazz. It premiered last year at San Francisco State University in a concert retelling of Homer’s The Iliad. The piece accompanied a series of Homeric translations by Classics students projected on-screen, handpicking timeless excerpts that captured universal concepts of the human experience.
Ellie Ganelin. Photo by Kate Mikhailov
Production of the album was custom-fit to accommodate life during the pandemic. All of the artists recorded their parts of the music remotely. “In certain styles of music, it’s common to ‘sample’ different instruments separately and put it all together in the production stage,” says Ganelin. “But in chamber music, artists are used to playing together in an intimate setting. Chamber musicians are always listening, adapting and responding in the moment — there’s so much interplay. Since it wasn’t safe for the artists to record in the same space at the same time, we adapted the music-making process so we could still listen and respond as musically as possible.”
Personnel for Synchronos: New Greek Voices include: Ellie Falaris Ganelin (flute), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Ariel Wang (violin), Lewis Patzner (cello), Joe Goodkin (guitar), Mary-Victoria Voutsas (piano), Costas Dafnis (ghostplate) and Katie Lynn Baker (soprano).
Talos Dreams will be premiered virtually on Zoom on Sunday, May 16 at 11am PST. The performance will be a mix of live performance and music videos produced by GCMP. The event is sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, and is co-presented by the History of Art Department, the Alexander Grass Humanities Institute and Peabody Institute. Visit www.TalosDreams.com to register for the event.
Talos Dreams will premiere virtually on Zoom on Sunday, May 16 with a mix of live performance and music videos produced by the Greek Chamber Music Project. Photo: Courtesy of the Greek Chamber Music Project
The Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) is an arts presenter and record label devoted to the music of Greek composers, shedding light on little-known chamber music works, as well as revisiting popular songs in a fresh way. GCMP is also committed to supporting the artists who perform and record this rich musical repertoire coming out of Greece and the Greek diaspora. GCMP’s concerts of all-Greek works are so unique, that similar programs are rarely performed even within Greece.
As a record label, it has several previous releases to its name, including Hellenic Song: A Musical Migration and The Moon is Red: A Tribute to Manos Hadjidakis, which feature a diverse selection of classical works and reimagined popular songs for piano, flute, violin, and voice.
Recent collaborations include an East Coast tour celebrating the Jews of Greece with Sephardic singer Sarah Aroeste, and a concert on songs of The Iliad by singer-songwriter Joe Goodkin at San Francisco State University. Past performance venues include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Library of Congress, as well as cultural centers and universities across the U.S. and Canada.
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