I. The Dance For A Thousand Splendid Years - score preview
II. Keeping Faith - score preview
III. Ancient Valor Rising - score preview
Commissioned by the National Association of College Wind & Percussion Instructors
Odysseia is a transliterated version of the Greek word that is commonly translated as odyssey in English. The title was chosen out of a desire to take the listener on a journey through different styles of Greek music as defined by general locations in Greece – all through a decidedly American lens. The work also addresses other facets of Greece aside from simply presenting musical snapshots of style and location. In addition to having each movement represent a specific type of Greek music, each of the movements is also inspired by important historical periods. Therefore the work seeks to be as much about a journey through time as it is location and musical style.
The first movement is entitled, The Dance For A Thousand Splendid Years. The “thousand years” refers to the glory of the Byzantine Empire that had its beginnings in the year 325 A.D. when the Emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Empire from Rome to the city of Byzantium in Asia Minor (now modern day Turkey) renaming it Constantinople. From that time until the great city fell in 1453 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire continued the great tradition of Hellenism begun in antiquity. It was a beacon of civilization in the East while Europe struggled after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Musically, this movement has elements of a regal fanfare and makes use of the energetic mixed meter dances native to the northern part of Greece.
The second movement is entitled, Keeping Faith. This movement is built upon a Byzantine chant melody. The music endeavors to portray the occupation of Greece by the Ottoman Turks. For nearly 400 years after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Greeks struggled to maintain their culture and most importantly, their Orthodox Christianity. In using chant idioms found within the Greek Orthodox Church, the movement reflects the notion, supported by many scholars, that the Orthodox Church played an important role in the preservation of a national identity and the resurgence of Greek nationalism during the Ottoman occupation. The particular hymn quoted is Soson Kyrie – Lord, Save Your People. This hymn appears in its entirety within the movement in different guises and key centers.
The title of the final movement, Ancient Valor Rising is taken from part of the translated lyrics of the national anthem of Greece, “Ode to Freedom” written by the Greek author, Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857). In 1821, Greece declared independence from the Ottomans and successfully waged a revolution that unified the country and set the course of the modern Greek state. In portraying the rise of modern Greece in this movement, I decided to use the “kalamatiano” dance rhythm. I chose this particular rhythm because the kalamatiano, while originating in the Peloponnesian region, has become the national dance of Greece. Through this dance, it perhaps may be said (at least by me) that Greeks express their unity. In addition to the dance rhythm, a fragment of the opening melody of the Greek National Anthem is quoted throughout the movement. Beyond the symbolism, this dance is also a joyful way to conclude the work.