David Gompper, Director





 
PROGRAM NOTES & BIOS

Performers

 Alexandra Gravas 

 Pantelis Polychronidis 

 

   SEASON: 




C.P. Cavafy and Music
An Evening of Songs and Reflections

with

Alexandra Gravas, mezzo soprano
Dr. Pantelis Polychronidis, pianist
Dr. Vassilis Lambropoulos, speaker


A program of Cavafy songs by Greek, American, and French composers, some well-known and some never performed before.

The program brings together the two most popular areas of modern Greek culture, music and poetry. Although Cavafy's poems notoriously resist being set to music, composers have found the challenge irresistible. This program examines the challenges presented by the poetry and the diverse musical idioms that have been used to turn it into art song.

Sponsored by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA)




 

«Έτσι πολύ ατένισα (Pedale a 3 Voci)» [I’ve Looked So Much]  (1925)
From the song cycle "14 Inventions" [«Ποιήματα ηδονιστικά»] for voice and piamo.

Dimitri MITROPOULOS
(1896-1960)
«Μέρες του 1903» [Days of 1903]   (rec. 1972)
From the 11-song cycle «Ο Μεγάλος Ερωτικός» [The Great Erotic] op. 30, for string chamber orchestra, female and male voice, and mixed choir.

Manos HADJIDAKIS
(1925-94)
"The Next Table" [Το διπλανό τραπέζι]   (2001)
From the 7-song cycle "Old Addresses" for baritone and piano (tr. Rae Dalven).

William BOLCOM
(1938)
"Windows" [Τα παράθυρα]   (1985)
The first movement of String Quartet No. 2 for quartet and soprano, a suite of 4 songs/movements set to poems by Cavafy. (tr. Rae Dalven; red. RMF)

Ron McFARLAND
(1928)
"Waiting for the Barbarians"
      [Περιμένοντας τους βαρβάρους]   (2000)
(tr. by the composer) From the cycle "Another Sleep", which includes 19 songs for medium voice and piano on texts by 14 authors.

Ned ROREM
(1923)
"Alexandrie" [Φωνές]   (1997)
From the 14-movement suite "Adieu Alexandrie."

Christian BOISSEL
(1951)
«Φωνές» [Voices]   (1963)
From the song cycle «4 τραγούδια επάνω σε ποιήματα του Κ. Π. Καβάφη» [4 Songs on Poems by C. P. Cavafy] for voice and piano.

Antiochos EVANGELATOS
(1903-81)
"Murailles" [Τείχη]   (1997)
From the 14-movement suite "Adieu Alexandrie."

Christian BOISSEL
(1951)
— Intermission —


"Shades of Love"   (2003)
Five poems within a cycle of three songs for voice and piano:
1) "To Call Up the Shades" 
[Για να 'ρθουν]
2) "I Went /One Night" [Επήγα/Μια νύχτα]
3) "Return/Far Off" [Επέστρεφε/Μακρυά]
(tr. Keeley/Sherrard and Rae Dalven).

David GOMPPER
(1954)
«Μακρυά» [Far Off]   (1999)
From "The Face of Love", a song cycle of 9 Greek songs for alto soprano and piano "on unrequited love" composed for singer Nena Venetsanou and included in her Greek CD "The Face of Love" (2002).

Calliope TSOUPAKI
(1963)
«Η πόλις» [The City]   (1981)
(red. P. Polychronidis) Based on a part of the 3rd movement of his Symphony No. 3 for soprano, choir, and orchestra.

Mikis THEODORAKIS
(1925)
«Δυνάμωσις» [Fortifications]  
(red. P. Polychronidis) First song in the song cycle «Κ. Π. Καβάφης: …που γι' Αλεξανδρινό γράφει Αλεξανδρινός» [An Alexandrian Writing on an Alexandrian].

Dimitris PAPADIMITRIOU
(1959)
«Κεριά» [Candles]   (1970s)
For voice and piano

Mimis PLESSAS
(1924)
"When They Come Alive" [Όταν διαγείρονται]   (2011)
for orchestra, soprano and female choir (red. composer). From Part II of the cantata "Cavafy Cycle" which includes of 27 Cavafy poems set to music, 18 in Greek and 9 in English translations (Keeley/Sherrard).

Kostas REKLEITIS
(1975)
"Ithaka" [Ιθάκη]   (premiere 2012)
Improvisation for mezzo soprano and piano.



Demosthenes STEPHANIDIS
(1957)
 



 
Alexandra Gravas
The Greek mezzo soprano Alexandra Gravas possesses the unique gift to make her recitals a deep, almost bodily experience for her listeners, as each composition is interpreted down to the finest nuances with a voice that changes effortlessly from one scale of musical expression to the next, tender, strong, dramatic, soft, with a fine sensitivity for the potential of each song. Louis de Bernieres ( Captain Corelli's Mandolin) writes in his foreword to the "Coasts of Spirits" programme, Alte Oper Frankfurt: "Alexandra knows that it is about communication, and she dedicates herself to communicating with all of us, disdaining the barriers of language and culture that the world has unkindly strewn in our path… I have the feeling that music comes not from her, but through her from somewhere beyond. She is among those who have been picked out as one of life's messengers."

Alexandra Gravas was born and grew up in Germany. She had the opportunity to grow up in two very different cultures: at school German classical music, at home Greek songs by Theodorakis, Hadjidakis and others. She feels her identity is that of a European with a Greek heart. Alexandra studied musicology, philosophy and German literature at the University of Frankfurt, voice with the London-based Miss Loh Siew Tuan and has taken master classes with Dame Vera Rosza and Sarah Walker.

An impressively wide repertoire is at Alexandra's command: opera roles, oratorio solos, classical song,. As a spirit wide open to every kind of music, she lends her exquisite voice to most different styles. Her Greek roots have played a significant part in her career. The performance of Greek contemporary composers form an essential part of her recital programmes, alongside the German, French, Italian and English repertoire. She has premiered works by internationally acclaimed composers like Demosthenes Stephanidis, Mimis Plessas, Alexandros Karozas, Francis James Brown, George Tsontakis, Achim Burg, Harue Kunieda, Constantine Caravassilis, Dante Borsetto, Jonnusuke Yamamoto and Otto Freudenthal. The Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis chose her to sing the premieres of his symphonic songs RAVEN, EROS KAI THANATOS and "Les dix Eluard". She has sang the German and British premieres of the rarely performed 16 Nikos Skalkottas songs in Germany and London.

Alexandra has performed in Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Greece, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Israel, Sweden, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Turkey, the USA, Malaysia, Japan, and has appeared on German, Austrian, British, Greek, Cypriot, Canadian, Swedish, Turkish and Israeli television and radio.

Her recordings incl. the symphonic work "Raven" by Mikis Theodorakis with the State Academic Cappella of St. Petersburg, conducted by the composer, OPERA by Dante Borsetto, Hommage a C. Cavafy and The Dream of Icarus by Alexandros Karozas, conducted by Richard Williams, Das Wort alter Steine and Unstete Wege by Achim Burg, "Bitter Tears" by Demosthenis Stephanidis, which won the Tomos Contemporary Music award in the USA.


  Pantelis Polychronidis
Dr. Pantelis Polychronidis is a collaborative pianist, educator and scholar, who performs regularly in both Europe and the US. He is currently on the Piano Faculty at the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES), Vienna and a Visiting Scholar at the Modern Greek Program of the University of Michigan.

He received his Bachelor in Musical Studies from the University of Athens with emphasis on ethnomusicology and historical musicology. He obtained his M.A. in Solo Piano and Collaborative Piano from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. He went on to obtain a Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) from the University of Michigan, where he studied with Martin Katz. During his U.S. studies Polychronidis was supported by a Fulbright and an Onassis scholarship. He is completing two Postdoctoral Programs at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, in Lied accompanying and Chamber music, with Charles Spencer and Roswitha Heintze respectively.

He has participated in numerous masterclasses and workshops, with such renowned artists as Lazar Berman, Paul Badura Skoda, Nikolai Petrov, Helmut Deutsch, Graham Johnson, Wolfram Rieger, Rudolph Jansen, Margo Garrett, Erik Schneider, Roger Vignoles and others. He has been in demand as a collaborative pianist and coach, and has performed in Austria, Germany, Greece, Holland and the U.S. His current major project is an evening long recital with settings of C. P. Cavafy poems by several composers, which will take place on six U.S campuses in April 2012.