Text: The First Rain Shower by Angelos Sikelianos
Translation by Dr. Gregory Jusdanis
This composition was driven by two external events: a commission from the Dimitria Festival held annually in the city of Thessaloniki, Greece in the months of October and November and a celebration honoring the establishment of formal faculty/student exchange programs between Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA) and two institutions in Thessaloniki: Aristotle University and Anatolia University.
In thinking about the commission and the events surrounding its premiere, I quickly settled on writing a work for colleagues at Georgia State University. I also wanted the character of the piece to be bright and optimistic. A poem by Angelos Sikelianos (1884-1951), one of Greece's most important 20th-century lyric poets, was suggested to me by my friend and colleague, Gregory Jusdanis. The poem, The First Rain Shower, struck me as lyrical, buoyant and perfectly suited for the occasion for which I was writing.
The text describes, in rich detail, a sudden burst of rain. Although not explicit in the poem, one may infer from the title, that the description is that of a spring shower, perhaps the first warm bathing of the earth after winter. The narrator is intoxicated by the rush of fragrances released by the rain. Through his description, we are drawn into his euphoric state and filled with joy. For me, there is also a sense of optimism that imbues the work; the whole of spring and summer lay before us and the world feels new again. This feeling perfectly captures the sense of anticipation present at the inauguration of relationships between universities. The music seeks to also reflect the sense of lyricism, lightness and optimism found in the text. The piano is used throughout the composition to represent the rain while the strings swirl about the singer as the fragrances described in the poetry.
This work marks the second collaborative effort between myself and the noted Modern Greek scholar, Gregory Jusdanis. I am very appreciative of his translation of the Sikelianos text made especially for this composition.