View From Olympus - Solo Percussion, Solo Piano, and Orchestra (2015)

 

Notable Performances

Official video playlist

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLe6QIpB-jM_Y74doudU4GKIabk7x2B45

 

Overview

Duration: 20m

This is the ‘karaoke’ version of View From Olympus. The two soloist parts are identical to the orchestral version, but in place of a live orchestra there is a MIDI backing track for all three movements. 

Steeped in Greek mythology and folk music this high energy double concerto for percussion, piano and orchestra is now presented in this new performance edition. Following a request from the commissioner, Dame Evelyn Glennie, a MIDI realisation of the orchestral parts of View From Olympus was created to enable performance by two musicians with audio playback. A digital download also contains various mixes for rehearsal purposes; an invaluable resource for those wishing to perform this concerto.

Commissioned by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, View From Olympus has become one of my landmark works. This double concerto takes listeners on a journey through the world of Greek percussion styles and playing techniques.The first movement features an adapted transcription of improvised Greek violin music (by Stathis Koukoularis), the second movement is a tribute to my two children, and the third movement is a wild depiction of the legendary Mænads celebrating their god Dionysos with song, music and dance.

The world premiere of this version was given by Dame Evelyn Glennie (perc), and Philip Smith (piano), at Cadogan Hall in London during the 2015 BBC Proms. MIDI programming of Digital Orchestra by David Downes (funded by Creative New Zealand)

The Furies were avenging spirits of retributive justice whose task was to punish crimes outside the reach of human justice. Their names were Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone. This movement contains an adapted transcription of a fragment of improvised playing by one of my favourite Greek violinists, Stathis Koukoularis (it appears as a solo for violin about two minutes into the movement).

To Yelasto Paithi (The Smiling Child) is the closest I’ve come to expressing — in a way not possible with the spoken or written word — the feelings inspired by my precious children, Emanuel and Zoe. In this movement is also caught the summer I spent working on the concerto at my parents’ house just outside the village of Nea Michaniona – a house perched on a cliff which looks down on the Aegean and up to Mount Olympus

Draped in the skins of fawns, crowned with wreaths of ivy and carrying the thyrsos — a staff wound round with ivy leaves and topped with a pine cone — the Maenads roamed the mountains and woods, seeking to assimilate the potency of the beasts that dwelled there and celebrating their god Dionysos with song, music and dance. The human spirit demands Dionysiac ecstasy; to those who accept it, the experience offers spiritual power. For those who repress the natural force within themselves, or refuse it to others, it is transformed into destruction, both of the innocent and the guilty. When possessed by Dionysos, the Maenads became savage and brutal. They plunged into a frenzied dance, obtaining an intoxicating high and a mystical ecstasy that gave them unknown powers, making them the match of the bravest hero.

Forming an optional encore to the concerto is Fragment (percussion version), for vibraphone and piano.

Instrumentation

Solo Percussion: vibraphone, marimba (5-octave instrument), simtak, dulcimer (santouri), bass steel drums, wind chimes (2 or 3 sets), bell tree, mark tree, triangle, finger cymbals, drum station (4 octobans, 4 tom toms, cymbals (trash, splash, medium crash, china crash and a cluster of smallest-possible splash cymbals), hi-hat)

Solo Piano (should be amplified)

Audio Playback System

Score and Recordings

Score

View From Olympus Official Playlist

Recording