MIRAGE? For vibraphone, cloud gongs (one soloist) and string orchestra. Commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. 2009 . 12 minutes, Score and parts available through PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.
Commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for Dame Evelyn Glennie and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Mirage? was composed during the winter months of 2009. It was a time when the world was entering an economic downturn which has often been compared with the Great Depression of the 1930s. This dark period was preceded by years of greed, selfishness, political and economic opportunism and plain disregard for basic human rights all over the world which necessitated the present period of cleansing and testing so we can hopefully reclaim our humanity and faith through the trials and tribulations of today’s economic and geopolitical crucible. Looking back at the previous period of careless and callous accumulation of wealth by the few at the expense of many, one wonders if the exorbitant life-style which we, the residents of the developed nations, managed to sustain for several decades at the expense of the developing world and the underprivileged among us was real or a mirage: sweet, lovely and seductive, but a mirage non-the-less. The unmistakable connection between the years preceding the present crisis and the “roaring twenties” accounts for the particular musical styles used in the composition and the question mark in the title. The music of Mirage? is permeated by a sense of sadness, and at one point, of despair. It is lamenting the loss of something pleasurable that could not be held on to: of a way of living that less fortunate generations in our post-apocalyptic future may find hard to believe as possible and relegate instead to the domains of myth and legend, like the myths and legends of lost continents and civilizations of our distant past that are still pounding at the threshold of our collective memory. Were they mirages too or are we failing the same test over and over again, destroying ourselves and others in the process while blotting our legacy in the collective memory of humankind? I don’t know if the music of Mirage? answers any of these questions, but these were the questions that led to its being. Perhaps there is still hope, that is hope for human solutions before God and nature take matters into their own hand, but during the days of composing this work that too seemed like a mirage.
Premiere performance: September 9, 2009. Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussion; The Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Anne Manson, conductor. Westminster Church; Winnipeg, Manitoba.
I just listened to Mirage? Astonishing . . . psychologically brilliant (is one description of the ways it hit me hardest on this first listen). The play of knowing my degrees of desire (for the theme to return . . . water) and how to tease that . . . over and over . . . those silences . . . gradually inciting a feeling my mind is lost (incapable of predicting anything . . . hopeless) . . . and then finally ending with relief in feeling reality of that desolate tone (desert). And to make this dance so deeply satisfying that I at one point erupted in laughter. Thank you. D. O. Toronto. August, 8, 2018.
Completed earlier this year, [Mirage?] is a fascinating and enigmatic work giving soloist and orchestra equal billing. Opening with eerie slides up the strings' fingerboards, it soon swung into a stylish undulating rhythm, reminiscent of the 1920s. Repeated notes in the vibraphone, like the tolling of a clock, seemed to mark the passing of time. Contradictory motifs, alternately ominous and conciliatory went back and forth among the instruments, complementing one another. Even the drone of a plane overhead during a quiet moment seemed to fit in with the doomsday atmosphere. This was a very moving piece—well executed and well received. Gwenda Nemerofsky, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS (Canada) September 11, 2009.world financial situation. For Wolf, this is important context for the listener.
The album’s titular piece Mirage? was composed for Glennie by beloved Canadian-Greek composer Christos Hatzis in 2008, when he was feeling particularly bleak about the For Chris Wolf, Classic 107 Music Director and host of Intermezzo "Hatzis asks the question; ‘Is wealth built off the backs of developing nations and the poor really a reality or seductive kind of mirage?’ There is a sense of searching and sadness that runs throughout this piece. The vibraphone interjects and weaves between the strings of the orchestra; sometimes a solo voice and sometimes just part of the texture. It’s as if Hatzis is trying to paint a picture viewed through some sort of twisted crystal prism. There are movements of melody in “Mirage,” that veer off into a wandering contrapuntal moments." Simeon Rusnak, host of the Diamond Lane here at Classic 107, describes this work as “blissful ignorance permeated by moments of musical truths. The illusion is one of a Gatsbyesque character being confronted with social realism.” Claudia Garcia de la Huerta, Winnipeg CLASSIC 107
Mirage? is a special concerto that integrates the soloist, featured with the distinct combination of vibraphone and cloud gongs, seamlessly into the fabric of the work. The performance is exquisitely authentic and instantly relatable, a notable feat given the modern harmonic language. Quintin Mallette, PERCUSSIVE NOTES, Vol. 56, No. 3—July 2018.
“A modern Canadian
composer attends the premičre of a work to hear its last performance.” This bon
mot by the distinguished Calgary musician Quenten Doolittle has become
proverbial. Yet there are exceptions to the rule — and Toronto’s Christos Hatzis
is one of them. To say that Hatzis is a successful composer would be a grave
understatement. The “contemporary Canadian master,” as The New Yorker described
him, was born in Greece, spent some years in the U.S. where he received his
academic training, and then became Canadian by choice. Beginning in the late
1970s, Hatzis has slowly but surely built a tremendous career. With a string of
recordings on EMI, Sony, Naxos, CBC Records and other first-rate labels, often
successfully competing in sales with pop albums, his presence on the
international classical stage is now comparable to that of Philip Glass, Henryk
Mikołaj Górecki, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki, or Steve Reich. The man
already is a Canadian icon and an international cultural institution. Despite
his success, the composer oozes modesty and restraint. “I call myself an
imitator,” he is quick to confess, “but not in the conventional sense of the
word. When I say I’m an imitator, I refer to Him who guides me and maps out
creative decisions for me.... As a musician and a human being, I feel that I
must follow my conductor’s cue. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but what I think much
art lacks most these days is spirituality.” Spirituality permeates practically
every one of Hatzis’ compositions, including his groundbreaking multimedia
masterpiece, Constantinople, for which he received a Juno. The newest one,
Mirage? for percussion and chamber orchestra, which has its Edmonton premičre on
Sept. 20, follows the same path. Hatzis explains its origins: “The piece, a
percussion concerto, was commissioned by CBC for the Scottish virtuosa Dame
Evelyn Glennie — also known in the pop world for her collaborations with Björk
and Bobby McFerrin — and the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra led by the truly
fantastic Anne Manson, for their Western Canadian tour, which is now in
progress. The music deals with the modern societies’ blatantly materialistic
obsessions and temptations. I see a connection between the years preceding the
present crisis and the ‘Roaring ’20s’ leading to Black Tuesday [Oct. 29, 1929]
and the subsequent Great Depression. It is a sad piece, perhaps even a cry of
despair, but for the modern world to survive, it is imperative to turn away from
the seductive mirages of the exorbitant lifestyle.” Maestra Anne Manson speaks
about Hatzis in almost poetic terms. “His sounds breathe space,” she says. “The
opening build-up, with more and more light let in, is enchanting. At times, the
music feels incredibly free, perhaps because it is so imbued with jazz. The
piece is marvelous, and rarely have I seen a modern composition so successful
with audiences. It is a veritable tour de force!” Hatzis means business. He’s
currently hard at work on another big project which promises to cause a stir — a
chamber opera centring on the last days of another Canadian legend, the
19th-century First Nations poet and writer Pauline Johnson. His co-writer? Some
unknown author named Margaret Atwood.
Piotr Grella-Mozejko Music Feature, See Magazine (Edmonton, Canada) September 17, 2009.
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