ORBITING GARDEN for piano and audio playback. 1989 (revised 2019). Commissioned by the Music Gallery for Anthony de Mare with a grant from the Canada Council. 15:40 minutes.

ORBITING GARDEN for accordion and audio playback. 1991. Accordion version commissioned by ConAccord Canada for Joseph Petric with a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation. 15:40 minutes.

Score/part and audio (including audio with click track for the performer)
available through


Accordion recording by Joseph Petric nominated
for a Juno Award (Classical Composition of the Year category) 2003

Orbiting Garden was commissioned in 1988 by Toronto’s Music Gallery for a concert in memory of American composer Morton Feldman, my last composition teacher, who had passed away a year earlier. It was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and premiered at the Music Gallery by pianist Anthony de Mare on April 8, 1989. Initially, I felt conflicted about the commission, partly because of my rocky relationship with my mentor in the late 1970s and early 80s (we parted company on non-speaking terms) and partly because, only a few short years after my Ph.D. defense, my musical aesthetic had migrated to the opposite side in the ideological universe from that occupied by his music and ideas. (Feldman is quoted as having said, “you drew a large circle and included me; I drew a smaller circle and excluded you.” Soon after graduation, that “you” became I.) Initially, I thought of Orbiting Garden as an act of defiance against Feldman’s coercive pedagogy, but also as a counterproposition for inclusivity to his declared exclusivity. Unbeknownst to me at that time, Orbiting Garden contained the seeds of my subsequent development as a composer, including my single-minded obsession with the microcosm of rhythm and minute relationships which still informs most of my music. It took me then the better part of a year to create these fifteen-minutes of music, struggling with primitive technology and a perpetual outsider’s understanding of classical musical instruments. The original version of Orbiting Garden ended with the vocal lament by Chari (pronounced “Khari”) Polatos a dear friend who was struggling with bouts of heroin addiction through most of his life. (The recording of this improvised lament took place at the CBC Radio studios in the midst of one such bout.) In 1992, after Chari’s tragic death in a traffic accident and while I was creating a version of the composition for accordion and audio, I decided to append the vocal ending with the coda of the current version, allowing the pianist to conclude the composition. A few years later, in the rapidly shifting sands of technological change, I lost my original computer files of the audio, including the tempo track with the accompanying click track. Partly because of this, and partly because of the fiendishly difficult solo piano part which requires MIDI-like rhythmic accuracy, Orbiting Garden dropped out of circulation. In April 2019, the thirtieth anniversary of its premiere, I decided to revisit this composition, significantly revamp the solo piano part and carefully and sparingly retouch the dated audio without disturbing its timestamp, thus restoring the original composition to active life once again. This is my new Orbiting Garden: less of a “garden” since the time the piece was originally composed (due to the rapidly accelerating climate change,) but still a dream for the future.

Premiere performance: April 8, 1989 by Anthony de Mare. Music Gallery, Toronto.


The title track Orbiting Garden is a sizzling Christos Hatzis cross-cultural romp, with flashing colours, genuine soul-filled electronics and triadic hooks to keep harmonies anchored. Tabla-like sounds suggest ragas and sitars, but with lots of lyrical wide-eyed wonder in their messages. Its 16-minutes fly, and one wonders how (well) the piece would work if scored for orchestra. [Joseph] Petric, as always, is amazing. James Manishen, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, March 29 2003 (Canada)

The first track on this album, Orbiting Garden, makes this CD well worth having. A cascading piece of continuous invention and momentum, this is one wild and playful ride. Written by Christos Hatzis in 1991...this remains a highly inventive post modern work hopping and skipping across great cultural divides. Themes are built from additive notes and micro-rhythmic motives and re-circulate throughout, along with brief snatches of Arabic strings, wordless chanting and a quote from Albinoni. The synchronization challenge for the live performer is immense. In spite of the variety of electronic sounds and influences the piece holds together and stands unique in the accordion repertoire (the original work was written for piano). I've not heard anything remotely like it. Steve Mobia, THE FREE-REED REVIEW.

...I love [Orbiting Garden.] I think that it is very exciting and engaging. The writing, the concept and your handling of the technology is quite thrilling. R. B. (USA)

To me [Orbiting Garden] represents the "thaw" which will penetrate the emotional deep freeze we are a part of in these challenging times. J. P. (Canada)

Return to Principal Compositions