Greek Lyric Poems is the result of a months-long collaboration between myself and baritone Joe Baunoch. It is influenced in part by my compositional style as well as Joe’s operatic background. The poems themselves are relatively new translations of ancient Greek lyric poetry done, not by a linguist, but by poet Sherod Santos. Santos takes great care to ensure that these translations are still poems, not merely explanations, when read in English. In his introduction to the collection, Santos writes that “the oral character of ancient poetry was central to its appreciation.” This collaboration across time between modern and ancient poets is fascinating to me.
The juxtaposition of old and new underlies the cycle. The opening, featuring the solo alto flute, refers to an ancient pan flute, and the plucked piano mimics a Greek lyre or kithara. These sounds (along with unaccompanied voice) evoke the coexistence of ancient and modern elements, paralleling Santos’ transformation of the ancient poems into modern poetry.
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