Commissioned by the Atlanta Community Orchestra
Winner of the 2005 Holyoke Civic Symphony Composition Competition
In the West, the term “Epiphany” holds several meanings. It can mean an appearance or manifestation of a Divine Being. It may be used to describe a sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something. In common secular parlance, it has come to describe an intuitive grasp of reality through a simple and striking event. For the Orthodox Christian, however, the term is used primarily to describe the great Feast Day celebrating the Baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist. Commissioned and premiered by the Atlanta Community Orchestra in 1999, this work seeks to unify all the meanings of “Epiphany” in homage to the memory of my father, John Demos and in dedication to a future generation.
At its core, the piece revolves around the original meaning of “Epiphany,” namely the Baptism of Christ. The work is based upon an ancient Byzantine Hymn of the Orthodox Church that is chanted at the Sacrament of Baptism and during the Divine Liturgy on special Feast Days within the Church calendar. Mostly obscured, yet featuring sudden moments of simple clarity, the hymn tune permeates almost every bar of the score.
The choice of this subject relates to the practice among Orthodox Christians of naming children after saints. Both my father and my son are named after St. John the Baptist. Upon gazing into the eyes of my young son, I often catch glimpses of my father. Through his birth I have undergone my own personal “epiphany.” The essential nature and meaning of my life is clearly reflected back to me in those young eyes. Though I owe the richness of my life, in part, to the past, my duty now is to the future. It is in this spirit, and in accordance to what I believe my father would have wanted, that this work is dedicated to my son, Johnny.