PROGRAM NOTES (selection)
Ao Tea Roa (2010) is the original name of New Zealand in the native Maori language. The piece is a musical recounting of the story of its discovery and subsequent turmoil during its conquest and ulterior ravaging by the so-called “civilized” world.
Artemis and the Red Dragon (2007). Usually depicted hunting a deer, Artemis is known as the Goddess of Hunt and the Queen of Animals, but also of forests and hills, child birth, virginity, and fertility, further identified with the Greek goddesses Hecate and Selene (moon goddess), the Roman goddess Diana, and the Etruscan goddess Artume. Artemis devoted herself to the chase. As an immortal goddess of hunt endowed with all attributes of a deity I was always disappointed with her taking delight in killing defenseless wild animals. As a consequence, in this short epic she meets a worthy opponent: the Red Dragon, a mythical creature endowed with magical powers who does not end up as a hunt trophy, quite the contrary.
Athos (2004, rev.2008) is the second work in a cycle of seven meditations for violin solo entitled The Path to Enlightenment. The collection was dedicated to the violinist Ioana Galu, who premiered Athos at the New Music Festival in Heidelberg, Ohio. The seven works present seven different spiritual journeys, Athos representing “the way of the monk” and the element air. Being a programmatic work, it is based on an ancient Chinese fable and was inspired by the composer’s visit to several religious sites around the world – the Meteora and Athos monasteries in Greece, the Holy Sites in Israel, and several monasteries in Romania. In a musical language derived simply from a four—note cluster and structured on a vertical architecture, Athos recreates for the listener the very spiritual journey of one’s quest for spiritual truth.
Bardo (2008) is short for Bardo Thödol – the Tibetan Book of Liberation Through Hearing during the Intermediate State. It was composed in the 8th Century by the great Indian saint Padmasambhava. It is a funeral text recited by Tibetan monks who guide a deceased one in the journey through the process of death. The heart beat stops, the flat line becomes the soul and the many experiences unfold as described. There is turmoil, anguish, fear and eternal sobbing. There is the unthinkable. But there is also hope and the returning to life in a never-ending cycle of death and rebirth called samsara.
Beyond Styx (2006). Styx is the River of Death in the Greek mythology. Guided by Caron in his boat (the sound of the boat in the water before the heart stops and the screams begin), the character enters the portal into the world of no-return. The middle section has two inner parts, first is the journey through the world and the second part is the actual, direct experience of that world. The piece is constructed from three layers of events: (1) the character and its experience; (2) the underworld and its environment; and (3) the spiritual dimension of such a journey. The Tibetan monk chant represents the transcendent spiritual dimension of the experience. It marks the moment of death and its end, much like a driving force that perpetuates a dynamic experience giving a new meaning to the “nothing lasts forever” truism, in the sense of “not even death.” Coming back to life at the end of the piece does not mandatory mean the same life. However, it is for sure the same experience of all of us going into, but more importantly beyond, the river of death, back into life.
Creatio ex typus (2008). The Latin title means Creation from symbol. The work is fifteen minutes in duration and consists of five movements, each exploring a different group of abstract gestures that result in complex sonic structures by means of a combination of symbols such as empty space, cone, dot, line and curve. These symbols are based on five prototypes of particle tendencies from which two are states of existence and three are motion tendencies (Genesis [cone <]; Cessation [cone >]; Static [dot]; Kinetic [line]; Interaction [curve]). According to quantum physics, at subatomic levels every particle has the tendency to continuously pop in and out of existence. The existence or nonexistence status of a particle is represented musically as sound and silence (perceived sound vs. pause). Since every particle has its own energy, the motion tendencies of this energy are translated into musical gestures as short sounds (pizzicato or staccatissimo, alone or in cluster), longer sounds (alone or in cluster) and glissandos (alone or in cluster, with variable speed). The musical material is based on these gestures and is notated using a combination of regular music notation and the above-mentioned symbols. The composition is based on spawning these gestures in different patterns and observing their evolution that, of course, while designed and engineered at the beginning, should take its own, natural course in the end. Research in quantum physics suggests that there is no such thing as solid matter, but one-dimensional objects in a vibrating state of existence (Superstring Theory). Two observations are the basis for my compositional approach: (1) At the core of every aggregate, no matter how simple or complex, are the same fundamental elements, suggesting that it is not the resultant aggregate that is essential but the initial elements upon which it is built. As a result, since the sound is the most intimate element of the structure, I did not specify a fixed instrumentation, opening up the piece to any combination of instruments (open, spontaneous sound creation). (2) Another observation is that creation seems to be transcendent at different levels. The vibration seems to be the basis of every particle that combines and recombines in more and more complex structures. Eventually it becomes everything, including living beings and the apparently solid matter which we shape into instruments; ultimately, they reproduce sounds we are meant to be able to perceive. In a certain way the creation, which in this idiom is the ultimate sound, reflects back into itself from the most complex to the simplest states of being.
Crimson Flower of the Desert (2009). This piece for orator and chamber ensemble was inspired by events that took place during my winter of 2008–2009 retreat at the Garchen Institute in Chino Valley. I wrote this piece for the 2008–2009 doctoral students at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and is dedicated to a most remarkable being: H.E. Garchen Rinpoche which I met during the retreat. The crimson is the color of the monks’ robes beautifully contrasting over the vast high desert of Arizona.
Dor (2006) is the second out of three works for violin and piano in a collection entitled Revelations Op.11 and dedicated to violinist Ioana Galu. Like the other two pieces in this opus, (Elegy No.1 and Toccata No.3) it is based on a mixture of Romanian traditional, jazz and atonal musical idioms. This piece brings on the foreground the Romanian and atonal aspects of the mix while presenting the jazz material in an esoteric fashion. Dor is a Romanian word that encompasses a wide range of meaning such as grief, hankering, longing, sorrow, wish, woe, lonesome, lovesick, nostalgia, and homesickness. The violin and the piano share equal importance in the development of the piece. The overall form is based on two contrasting sections with rhythms derived from two different types of Romanian traditional dances; a beginning slow 7/8 followed by a fast 4/4 second section. The work is difficult for both, violin and piano, and represents the binding arch over the musical material found in the other two pieces from the same opus.
Earth Beauty (1995). Deep inside the heart of the Earth / Hidden in the spell of time / I dream, deeply, about you / Please, stay with me / Earth Beauty / Since many ages / There was no one to listen to your heart / And at evening time / Your precious name to call again / Scent of wild flowers / And ripen fruits / With arms of light / To hold you I wish I could. (Greu, în inima pământului, / Ascuns în vraja timpului / Adânc visez… cu tine. / Te rog… rămâi cu mine… / Frumoasa Pământului… / De veacuri multe, / Nu-i cine inima s-asculte / Şi-n ceas de seară / Numele tău drag să-l cheme iară… / mireasmă de flori de câmp / şi de fructe coapte! / Cu braţe de lumină / Să te cuprind aş vrea).
Ecce Homo (1999). Regardless of what a musician does or says, he will always be vulnerable through the music he writes. The album you are holding now in your hands is an exercise of a supreme sincerity of one of the best friends I have ever had. Mihai. Born in Capricorn, he is the one who gives among us. Listen carefully to the seven songs and at some point you will notice a strange whisper, a tempting balance between auditory sensations and visual projections. The approach is clever, imaginary, sprinkled with thrills and turmoil, elevation, so that in the end it becomes of a deeply human simplicity. Mihai doesn’t prove anything gratuitous here, he is just story-telling. Listen to the story! At a certain moment, past the turmoil of the beginning, his speech appeals to one of the most brilliant Romanian popular themes, basically a universal musical matrix, “melc, melc, codobelc (Eng: Rain, rain, go away…,” pretext for an incredible sound development. It is the culmination of this album, followed by a general outburst, for the order of things to establish the calm and the tranquility, the serenity of the paradisiacal space at the end. It is a journey down to the heavens, full of questions. Here is the ladder that Mihai places before your steps. Tudor Runcanu, CD-Radio Cluj-Napoca.
Ex-Libris (2000). Fragment from a beloved’s diary: “My dear ones who will read this diary, I sincerely confess to you that no one has to endure so much pain because it is not humane and it is not right […] But it is what it is… my soul hurts terribly after all that I have lost, Father, Mother, Child, my dear life companion, brother and sister… they all left, I am left with their memory, that’s all. The rest… endless silence and a lot of pain… everything was lost into oblivion… only the silence of the evening and the white nights that bring me through the murmur of the night a mist that caresses me, a sign from my loved ones, it seems to be all that’s left of all the struggle of life… just sad or a little happier memories, but still memories… nothing else.”
Elegy (2006). Defined as “a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead,” an elegy was usually seen from the perspective of the one mourning. This elegy, however, is written from the perspective of the one departing. An elegy at the beginning, somehow reminiscent of memories from the native lands of different life seasons, it soon after becomes overwhelmed by strong emotions of utter revolt at the infallible fate of all beings, leading to a powerful resolve to overcome all limitations inherent in the nature of all things ephemeral.
Five Elixirs from Pema Ko (2011). Also known as the “hidden lotus-land” or the “lotus array”, Pema Ko is a sacred and concealed realm, an earthly paradise blessed by Padmasambhava in Tibet, where the legend says one can find ever–lasting happiness. Each mountain and river of this place is considered to be a part of Dorje Pagmo’s body, a Tibetan goddess. In this place it is said to grow five different types of wondrous flowers. The elixirs extracted from these flowers will endow one with magical abilities such as flying, immortality, the ability to see past, present and future all at once, and so on.
Hawa (2007). Hawa for violoncello and piano was commissioned by Rachel Pinkney at Ohio Northern University in the summer of 2007. It is a poem of life and death… a cry out fueled by the dramatic emotions which arise when losing someone that has a special place in one’s heart. Hawa, (also Hawwa(h), Hawwâ’, Haou, or Awa) is the principal character of the Torah, the Old Testament and the Qur’an, (Eve in English version) supposedly the first woman on earth, the mother of all mothers, the symbol of woman. But hawa (lower case) is also the blind, strong passion of a man, which is often stronger than himself, and in the Qu’ran, in its basic meaning, it has the idea of carrying towards a low level. Having such a strongly dualistic nature, the word is susceptible to an alchemy of meaning, which in turn, makes it a proper recipient for the multitude of emotional nuances that are addressed in this work.
Homage to Tara (2009). This choral piece is an exploration on various mantras chanted by Tibetans in order to supplicate Mother Tara, the embodiment of compassionate wisdom. The tantras state that while Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of Buddha Amithaba’s compassion, Tara is the embodiment of his wisdom. “Chenrezig cultivated indomitable courage to benefit all sentient beings until the exhaustion of samsara. For limitless kalpas, he benefited sentient beings through bringing them to the state of liberation; however, the total number of sentient beings did not decrease. One day, he became exhausted and tears came to his eyes. Being overwhelmed by the suffering of sentient beings, these two tears became Tara and Bhrikuti. Tara said to him, “Those who fear the suffering of samsara, I will protect them. Do not fear; I will protect them”. Thus she works together with Chenrezig to benefit sentient beings.” (Excerpt from the Green Tara tantra of Khenpo Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche ). This piece was written as a dedication to H.E. Garchen Rinpoche.
Hunab Ku (2010). Hunab Ku is the date in which the very precise Mayan Calendar ends abruptly. According to some researchers, this event could bring about the end of the world as we know it on exactly December 21, 2012. I used these numbers to generate the musical ideea for Hunab Ku. The accounts regarding this event are prophesized by ancient Mayans and Aztecs as well as prophets from different cultures around the world (the Sybil Prophet of Greece, Merlin the Mage, Prophet Mother Shipton, Nostradamus, Madamme Blavatsky, Edgar Cayce, the Holy Bible, and so on). The same date also marks the end of several different cycles of time that only align in this manner every approximately 26,000 years. But other accounts support the idea that Hunab Ku is the event that will bring about the so-called Golden Age of humanity. Personally, I am optimistic…
In bocca el lupo (2010) is an Italian expression which translates “in the mouth of the wolf.” It is a story within a story talking about events occurring during and after the writing of my horn concerto, Udumvara. I find marimba a surprisingly colorful instrument and a perfect match for the wide gamut of emotional experiences portrayed in this piece. In bocca el lupo was dedicated post-scriptum to Isabelle Huang and received its world premiere by Mark Cook.
Katana (2008). Katana is the third in a series of meditations for violin solo (Sakura 2002, Athos 2004). It is inspired by the fascinating spiritual path of the warrior, in this case the spiritual warrior. Historically, a katana is a type of Japanese sword renowned for its extraordinary sharpness and cutting ability. The samurai, living by the highly regarded codes of honor, loyalty and warrior virtues (Bushido) considered katana to be the source of the warrior spirit and meant to him more than any other earthly possession. On the spiritual path, the sword of the seeker is the mind itself when imbued with altruistic loving-kindness and compassion. Thus, in the Christian tradition the so-called “sword of the monk” is a type of specially-weaved rosary while in the Buddhist tradition the so-called bodhisattva or being who has given rise to the mind of enlightenment has his own primordial wisdom as a keen sword of awareness. Katana is a metaphor which places the performer in the spiritual warrier’s position, holding the precious source of realisation on the path – the violin – as that being the source of all vibrations is indeed, according to the ancient praxis of sacred sound, a means to attain full emancipation.
La lontananza (2010) is loosely translated from Italian as “the far away.” The work was written for and dedicated to Vasile Beluska. It references a set of events in my previous life characterized by tremendous loss of dear ones in a very short span of time. Those events were the basis for my journey far away, in search for answers to the great questions of life. La lontananza relates the happenings since I left Europe ten years ago and represents my farewell to the past, as I found on this land what I was looking for.
Lost in Paradise (2000). It is not difficult to say “I like someone’s music,” but then remain indifferent to that creation. Mihai Popean’s artistic experience and talent prevents you from doing this from the first chords and constantly pushes you on a mystical, divine realm, where life and faith merge and intertwine in a cosmic miracle. Every time I listen to Mihai’s album “Lost in Paradise” I get lost in the sounds, remembering the words of the great Heine: “Music is the last word of art just as death is the last word of life…”. In his latest musical work suggestively titled “Lost in Paradise”, the author invites us to take a look into a corner of Paradise. Passing through an imaginary gate to a celestial world, we will be able to follow together with the loved one the first rays of a wonderful sunrise, so that, in an evolutionary end, difficult to delineate, we will say goodbye, returning to the real world, the cold world of the three dimensions. The artist’s own vision and the way of combining musical ideas discover a rich spiritual atmosphere, addressed directly to the soul, as part of a whole. “Lost in Paradise” is a different composition from the previous ones, having a more encrypted structure, almost hermetic, the sound images succeeding each other slowly, as if awakened from an eternal sleep. In fact, the whole conception is one of eternity, of something indestructible, which will constantly resist human small-mindedness and limits. The author partially removes human subjectivism but does not give up the deepest emotions and instead brings a harmonious warmth from the highest spheres of self-knowledge… In front of you is a strange and but fascinating album, the spatial sensations of a splendid refinement giving an incredible force of the avant-garde vision. I have been waiting for a long time to listen to such a musical creation! Sergiu Rusu, Radio Arad 99.1 FM.
Mictlantecuhtli (2008). According to Aztec legend, the twin gods Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl were sent by the other gods to steal the bones of the previous generation of gods from Mictlanteculhtli. The god of the underworld sought to block Quetzalcoatl’s escape with the bones and, although he failed, he forced Quetzalcoatl to drop the bones, which were scattered and broken by the fall. The shattered bones were collected by Quetzalcoatl and carried back to the land of the living, where the gods transformed them into the various races of mortals.
Natura (2010). Natura is the fourth work in a cycle of seven meditations for violin solo (Sakura 2002, Athos 2004, Katana 2008) entitled The Path to Enlightenment. The collection was written for and dedicated to violinist Ioana Galu who premiered Natura on April 12, 2012 at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. The seven works present seven different spiritual journeys, Natura representing “the way of gradual liberation.”
Namkha Artæ (2014) translates loosely as Meditation on the Space-Like “A”, the sound equated with primordial purity in some cultures of Tibet and India, and found in English in words such as “God” or “Love. The ideas for this work were developed at the Vajra Temple during a summer retreat at Odiyan Monastery in Cazadero, California. The ambient sounds included strings of bells attached to the temple as well as prayer flags moved by the wind and the sounds of nature. These were complimented by those of the Pacific Ocean which I was gazing at from the mountaintop through an eye opened in the low clouds formed beneath my altitude. There was a persistent fragrance of roses and magnolia flowers and a sense of wonder and unbounded vastness, which is a dominant feature of the soundscapes in this work. Khandro is the Tibetan word homologue to the Sanskrit ḍākinī, a wisdom being in female form which can act as a bestower of knowledge, as a source of inspiration, or as a supportive agent for those looking for self-emancipation. It is said that in certain conditions, if one pays close attention, they can be perceived casting flower petals from the sky and singing songs of praise. The Khandro’i Gur (The Song of the Ḍākinīs) which adorns the final section of Namkha Artæ is inspired by language specific to Ḍākinīs’ songs of praise found in the terma (Tibetan: “Hidden Treasure”) tradition of Padmasambhava – the patriarch of Vajrayāna Tibetan Buddhism and Samyé, the first Tibetan monastery build in the 8th century (A.D.). This work is partly inspired by my research on the ancient culture of the Tibetan plateau, in an effort to showcase elements of a millenia-long tradition which until recently was not widely known outside of its own geographical area. Furthermore, it is a homage to the sustained efforts of Tarthang Tulku (Odiyan Monastery, California) to preserve the Tibetan culture in USA ever since he arrived in 1970 and whose monumental written work as author and translator was a main source for my research.
Natura (2010) is the fourth work in a cycle of seven meditations for violin solo entitled, “The Path to Enlightenment.” The collection is written for and dedicated to violinist Ioana Galu, who is tireless in premiering and promoting this music. The cycle portrays seven different spiritual journeys, Natura representing “the way of natural wisdom” and the element wood. The program is based on an ancient Chinese fable and was inspired by the composer’s deep connection with the natural world along with extensive study and knowledge of sacred geometry. The musical language is derived from the smallest temperate musical unit (semitone) and weaved in a spiral pattern around sequential pitches just as the Fibonacci series is represented in nature.
Nemesis (2009). Daughter of Nyx the Greek goddess of night, Nemesis was the maiden goddess of divine retribution, the distributor of fortune in due proportion according to one’s deeds and merit. She was praised by the Greek poet and composer Mesomenes as the “winged balancer of life, dark-faced goddess, daughter of justice”, the mother of the legendary Helen of Troy and who eventually brought about the demise of Narcissus as a retribution for his arrogance. As the goddess of proportion and avenger of crime she rides on a chariot drawn by gryphons, her implements consisting of tally stick, bridle, scales, sword, and scourge. Due to its many special qualities, the trombone represents in this piece the voice of Nemesis, as she imparts divine justice.
Norbu (2009) means The Wish-Fulfilling Gem in Tibetan and is the first work in a cycle entitled The Songs of the Thousand-Petal Lotus. According to the tradition, one who develops a sincere desire to benefit all beings does so by generating genuine and altruistic love, kindness and compassion. Acting as such, these qualities shine forth like three resplendent jewels. One that undertook whatever hardship is necessary in order to master and embody such qualities is said to become a bodhisattva (holy being) acting as a wish–fulfilling gem. Norbu is the story of an ordinary individual in the quest for such a realization.
Oge Retla Sussicran (2009). Mihai Popean is the opposite of everything he is not, and definitely a never-ending but limited source of chaotically-organized events. Musically speaking he follows in the footprints of Nae Pop Iahim and is destined to have a destiny. You can always find out more about him if you don’t inquire. Peace!
Osmosis (2008) means gradual absorption, the movement of water across a membrane from an area of higher water concentration to lower water concentration. I applied this concept to sound, creating layers of different densities and gradually absorbing them through each other. Osmosis was written using Logic Pro 7, DSP Quattro, soft synthesizers (ES1, ES2, ESX24) and acoustic sounds processed beyond recognition.
Prelude no.1 Augustus Padmasambhava (2005). I remember spending many nights in the school, after even the mightiest students would give in to the call for rest so the silence would finally take over the monastery. There, in the dark, with nothing but the moonlight shining through the ancient windows I would lay my head on the piano and strike, for hours at a time, a single note in all possible ways in order to discover all the hidden layers of the sound genesis, life and dissolution. Then two notes, than three, and so on… At the age of fourteen I was considered already too old to become a piano major and the countless hours of practicing on a fake keyboard drawn on the dinner table top could not substitute for the instrument itself. However, it helped in other ways… as listening to vinyl records or simply humming and trying to figure it out myself, I started hearing the movements of my fingers as music in my mind and… for the next twenty years I wrote piano pieces in various styles or with educational purposes. This was the first piano work written since moving to United States in 2001 and was the result of a major shift in my compositional style. Augustus Padmasambhava is a work dedicated to the sage Padmasambhava and written as a homage to Serghei Rachmaninov who’s piano writing and performing had a long-lasting effect on me, just as much as Glenn Gould, Sviatoslav Richter, Arthur Rubinstein and Arturo Michelangeli’s perfomances along with Eugen Cicero, Oscar Peterson and Keith Jarrett’s music had later on. Latin for “majestic,” “the increaser,” or “venerable,” Augustus was an ancient Roman title held by Caesar for the first time while Padmasambhava was the name of the founder of Vajrayana in Tibet, in the 8th century a.d.. Among instruments, piano has the greatness, the power and the stature equivalent to that of an emperor of the past or the founder of Tibetan Buddhism and also unmatched agility, expression, range and versatility. So I found the title more than appropriate for this work. The form is inspired from Rachmaninov’s piano Prelude in G minor, however the manipulation of pitch material pays tribute to the avant-garde music of the 20th-century. The piece itself was not written at the piano so I could move away from my already-ingrained musical biases and thus a revised edition seemed appropriate after consulting with several pianists. Augustus Padasambhava was designed as an encore or as a showcase piece. The dynamic contrasts should be emphasized to a great extent while preserving the variety of dynamic layering.
Pema Kö (2011). Known as the “hidden lotus-land” or the “lotus array,” Pema Kö is a sacred and concealed realm, an earthly paradise found by Padmasambhava in Tibet, where the legend says one can find ever–lasting happiness. Each mountain and river of this place is considered to be a part of Dorje Phagmo’s body, a Tibetan emanation of wisdom. In this place it is said to grow five different types of wondrous flowers. The elixirs extracted from these flowers will endow one with magical abilities such as flying, immortality, the ability to see past, present and future all at once, and so on. The work is based on five musical gestures and represents the magical journey to and through Pema Kö while gathering the five nectars and alchemically forming the five elixirs.
Sakura (2002). Sakura is the first work in a cycle of seven meditations for violin solo entitled The Path to Enlightenment. The collection was dedicated to the violinist Ioana Galu, who premiered Sakura on February 29, 2003 at Bowling green State University in Ohio. The seven works present seven different spiritual journeys, Sakura representing “the way of contemplation.” Being a program work, it is based on select life stories of legendary spiritual masters. Sakura is a short and extremely difﬁcult work written in a rounded binary ABA’ form. The opening states the theme that uses three distinct motives and generates the rest of the piece. Sakura is the story of two masters ﬁghting for life. In the end the one who dies receives the supreme lesson and is, in fact, the winner. The phrases are separated by breaks and often continued in octaves, symbolizing the two characters ﬁghting. Octaves are replaced by broken chords and fast thirty-second passages. In the B section and the most dramatic one, the trills are added in top of a chord section and everything becomes faster and dense. I found it particularly difﬁcult to actually hear the pitches and play them correctly since the entire piece is atonal. The last section concludes the story, bringing the original theme back in octaves and metrically displaced, carrying a syncopated rhythm
Sanctus (2011) for pipe organ is a suite of three twelve-tone miniatures written using the row [1-0-11-5-7-6-4-3-2-8-9-10]. I was fascinated by the amazing versatility of this instrument while studying with acclaimed organist Vernon Volcott at Bowling Green State University. I strongly believe that this half-forgotten instrument has an enormous potential and a well–deserved place in the scene of contemporary music of the twenty-first century. Aside from its vast array of qualities as both a performance instrument and a powerful educational tool, the organ is probably the only instrument that engages a performer with all four limbs in the act of learning and performing which makes it a very important tool in brain development. This piece is part of a series of studies I am interested in with the purpose of designing a pipe organ whose main instrument can be ported onto the performance stage so it can be part of the ensemble and seen in all its splendor during a performance. Electronic organs are not able to reproduce the entire gamut of possibilities offered by the traditional pipe organ.
Serpentarius (2012). This work was inspired by the legend of the Greek healer Asklēpiós (the Serpent Holder), represented by the 13th constellation of the zodiac, Ophioūkhos. He was the son of princess Koronis (a Hyades, from the sisterhood of nymphs that bring the rain, and sisters to the Pleiades and the Hesperides) and god Apollo (the Olympian god of music, prophecy and healing, protector of youths and patron god of poets), who left a white crow to keep watch on her. Koronis fell for a mere mortal, Ischys. When Apollo learned of her infidelity from the crow, he cursed the bird for not plucking Ischys eyes out, and turned it black. Apollo’s huntress sister, Artemis, killed Koronis shooting a quiverful of arrows into her. As Koroni’s body was being set ablaze on a pyre, Apollo came to his senses and saved his son by cutting him out of her abdomen, named him Asklēpiós, and took him to Kheiron, a kind and very wise centaur, to take care of him. Kheiron taught Asklēpiós the art of medicine and he mastered it to the point he was raising the dead back to life. Hades, King of the Underworld, complained to Zeus who struck Asklēpiós with a thunderbolt, killing him. At apollo’s insistence, Zeus placed Asklēpiós among the stars as the Serpentarius or the Ophiucus constellation. Asklēpiós is depicted having a staff with a snake climbing around it. The legend says that the snake gave Asklēpiós secret medical knowledge, and while Asklēpiós was able to cure even death by raising the dead back to life, he was not able to find a cure for the proverbial jealousy which the gods of Olympus seem to have been plagued with. This work contemplates the conclusion that jealousy is deadlier than death, as presented in a hymn sung by the story teller:
“O, Asklēpiós, son of unfaithful Koronis and vengeful Apollo,
Even the gods themselves fear Phthónos, and Hades sealed your fate with Zeus.
Kheiron, the kind and wise centaur taught you the art of ultimate medicine;
And you even raised the dead back to life; but jealousy is deadlier than death.
Still, Tartarus shall never be your dwelling place, as you shine eternal among Aquila and Hercules.”
Silentium (2009) is an ode in one movement written for chamber ensemble, exploring the many meanings encapsulated in every moment of silence… so much the same in essence yet so different in emotional charge. Every moment of silence in the piece represents a different meaning, which is revealed afterwards in the musical fragment that follows. This intricate composite of silence and music creates the architectural backbone of the work. The musical language is built upon two distinctive structural cells: a rhythmical motif with a pitch center set on B, and a melodic motif set on two main intervals (minor second and triton). The relationship between rhythmic and melodic development is closely matched with a similar development between pitched and non-pitched instruments, creating the frame for timbral exploration and expansion of the dynamic spectrum. Written in 2006 and heavily revised in 2007, Silentium represents a journey into one’s inner self, where the meaning and the awareness of all that is dependent arising, takes birth.
Spring Blooms (2002, rev. 2010) Just like the encounters with remarkable people, some memories are there to stay. We all have them. But in some cases, these memories overgrow us redefining one’s understanding of life. I remember being in a time of great turmoil following the untimely death of three dearest ones… my father, my child and my mother. After severing the past and the future in such a categorical way, death left available for me – at least temporarily – a single tense… the troubled present… concurrently a perpetual mourning and the very means to keep my sanity. So I ran away… to the countryside, at the shore of the Blue Danube. And there, speechless and with an empty mind, away from everything, I spent an entire day in a heavenly orchard. I just sat there, simply contemplating the imperturbable cycle of life rendering once more the ritual of becoming and ceasing. Spring Blooms is the story of that day.
Tempestas – The Eye of the Storm (2007) (Latin: violent storm, tempest) is an ode to nature, based on two dramatically opposed musical gestures. The architectural design follows closely the blueprint of a cyclone. Particular attention was given to timbral exploration as each instrument has a precise role in the development of pitch material and overall soundscape.
Twittering Machine (2011). Inspired by Paul Klee’s painting with the same name (Die Zwitscher-Maschine, 1922), Twittering Machine is a long-due project I was contemplating for a while. I remember becoming fascinated with it while teaching about its impact in the history of the Twentieth Century music to my composition students. There are a number of strikingly beautiful works inspired by the same painting and I was waiting for just the right circumstances so I can add yet another angle to this – by now – phenomenon. I wrote my own Twittering Machine for the Alarm Will Sound project at Bowling Green State University (2012).