for flute and percussion. 1978. Commissioned by Robert Dick and Jan Williams. 20 minutes. No longer available for performance.

The premiere of Cain on April 29, 1979 by flutist Robert Dick and percussionist Jan Williams at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery was the first public performance of my music. The piece - impossibly difficult to perform - was composed to commemorate the slaughter of a number of students at the Polytechnical School of Athens by the fascist junta which ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. In a non-programmatic manner the piece is an assembly of eyewitness accounts of the event as they were related to me by survivors of the army's attack or by written accounts I had read since then. The very opening of the piece, a thick, multiphonic passage for solo flute, is an ugly caricature of the "Hymn to Freedom", the Greek national anthem. The stuttering incomprehensible instrumental lines that follow, derived by means of fractal and stochastic processes, attempt to describe the confused feelings of the eyewitnesses, the conflicting reports of the event itself, and the immense effect this atrocity has had on my generation's belief in the continuity of life and, consequently, of art. The closing segment of the piece, a quiet epitaph for glockenspiel and whisper tones on the flute is a prayer, an exorcism and a catharsis, all at the same time. Cain has not been performed since its premiere in 1978.


The success of Cain was musical above all. The form suggested the combat... Hearing the piece was helpful in reminding the listener that inside one's head is a musical theatre of the imagination. Not seeing, then, but hearing, very often is believing.


[Cain] was a work of fitful outbursts and long, tense silences, moving from the thrusting and pounding episodes into eerily mystic reveries spun out of the slenderest tone threads.


[In Cain] the result is gripping: sometimes brutal, sometimes tender; a mysterious composition which is enhanced, but never lavishly depended upon, its extramusical subject matter.

Steven N. Swartz, THE SPECTRUM (USA)

Cain, when performed, drew great applause and I feel that to a large part this is due to Christos' very fine and natural writing for extended flute techniques; a quality few non-playing composers ever reach.

Robert Dick

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