Three Hellenic Dances

Three Hellenic Dances

Three Hellenic Dances

for Bb clarinet, guitar and cello

            My colleagues at the University of Louisville School of Music have long been supporters of my creative work, commissioning, performing and recording my compositions for decades now.  This very much includes clarinetist Matthew Nelson, guitarist Stephen Mattingly and cellist Paul York.   I was casting about for a new project and it struck me that a trio for them could be a very intriguing combination.   I asked them if they would be interested in such a piece and they all very graciously agreed.

            About this time I was listening to the uncategorizable album Into the Labyrinth by the equally uncategorizable band, Dead Can Dance.  One of the songs is called Emmeleia, which I thought a beautiful word.  I discovered that this is the name of a solemn, stately Greek dance associated with ancient tragic theater.

            Looking around for a couple more ancient Greek dance types I came across (among others) Kōmos, a ritualized procession of drunken revelers, and Korybantum, a highly athletic dance emulating armed combat.

            I have used these words as springboards for the music in the three movements.  I hasten to add that there is nothing actually Greek about the music and, indeed, very little is known about the music associated with these dances. I have just taken these very general descriptions of the dances to inspire my musical imagination.

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