STRING QUARTET NO. 2 (THE GATHERING). Commissioned by the St. Lawrence Quartet with funds from the Ontario Arts Council. 37 minutes. Score and parts available PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.
An abridged dance version of the work called MY BROTHER'S KEEPER was commissioned by the Pilobolus Dance Theater and was choreographed by Michael Tracy in 2002. 20 minutes. Unavailable for public performance.
String Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering) is a work in four movements commissioned by and dedicated to the St. Lawrence Quartet. The St. Lawrence Quartet is a superb and dynamic group of string instrumentalists with whom I had the great fortune of collaborating in my capacity as a professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto (the St. Lawrence quartet was the resident string quartet at the school between 1996 and 1999).
I worked on the composition intermittently for the better part of a year, putting the work aside for extended intervals of time during which I composed other music. Stylistically, my String Quartet No. 2 is an eclectic gathering of fragments of musical experience which I have collected over the years from diverse geographical and chronological sources. These fragments are put together in a manner reflective of my ongoing quest for a trans-national, trans-dogmatic view of the world and its inhabitants. The presence of heterogeneous stylistic elements in this piece also acts as a form of exorcism against the absurdity of war and senseless violence.
The first movement starts with a statement of a quasi-middle eastern motif which appears in various guises throughout the piece. Even though the music is not minimalist per se, allusions to the music of the American minimalists of the 1960s, particularly Philip Glass, are evident throughout. The music starts softly with this mourning motif and gradually gains momentum peaking at the very end, and stops abruptly just short of a final cadence.
The second movement starts with a quotation from Nunavut, my first string quartet. The gypsy-like ground from the end of Nunavut becomes the foundation for further elaboration of this material, which occasionally sounds like distant echoes of Brazilian tango. Halfway through the movement the music gives way to an unpre-tentious dance reminiscent of Balkan and Middle eastern music. The dance gradually returns to the serene resignation of the "Nunavut" ground and the music stops suspended, again with no definitive ending.
Most of the music (from the middle of the second movement to the end of the piece) was composed during the time of the terrible war in Kosovo and the continuous bombings of Belgrade. It was during those trying days that I decided to revisit Nadir, an earlier work, and transform it into the third movement of the present work. Originally scored for flute, viola and tape, Nadir was itself inspired by the horrors of war: it was composed during the devastating conflict between Iran and Iraq in 1988. The original piece has been modified significantly in its newest incarnation. Its "Islamic", Middle eastern timbre has been maintained—it was clearly appropriate for both contexts—but the latter part of the newer incarnation in the quartet follows a progress of its own, which is separate from the original. The stubborn ostinati of the end of the original are extended, re-orchestrated and intermingled with new material, becoming even more obstinate and compulsive in the process. This frantic process is interrupted twice by an Eastern Orthodox melody, a voice of deep spirituality in the midst of insanity and terror, which, however, is twice ignored by the frantic music racing towards a violent cadence.
The last movement picks up where the second movement left off. After several variations of the "Nunavut" ground, and a ghostly reiteration of the Balkan-like dance (if the dance in the second movement was a dance of bodies, this one is a dance of souls), the music breaks abruptly into one last violent protestation, perhaps the most violent so far, before it is taken over (or under, as the case may be here) by the orthodox troparion of the Metamorphosis (Transfiguration) of our Saviour. Similar in mode and content to the chant which tried to halt the progress of violence in the third movement, the troparion of Metamorphosis is a prayer for a spiritual metamorphosis to take place in the Balkans and turn this violent part of the world into a place of peace and enlightenment.
Premiere performance of the dance version: January 24 & 25, 2003 by the Pilobolus Dance Theater and the St. Lawrence String Quartet; Stanford Lively Arts; Stanford Auditorium; Palo Alto, CA
Inuit and Quartet
The Canadian of Greek
origin Christos Hatzis (b. 1953)—who is among the most
important composers of his country—conceives of music
not as an art of sound that is distant from reality or an aesthetic end in
itself, but rather as a living means of expression, with which he communicates
personal messages: his unshakeable Christian spirituality, for example, which
even in the face of powerful social conflicts always preserves a belief in
humanity. This attitude is also evident in both of the
quartets recorded here. Hatzis’s first contribution to the genre, created in
1994 and titled “Awakening,” was inspired by his contact with the endangered
culture of Canadian aboriginals. As he weaves tape recordings of Inuit singing
into his own post-romantic musical language, the composer shapes a Utopia of
peaceful coexistence between man and environment. The second quartet (“The
Gathering”), from 2000, is in many respects comparable to its predecessor, with
which it also shares motives. This work, though, is concerned with the events of
the Balkan war, and joins together quite disparate stylistic influences, from
Brazilian Tango to minimalism, into a very colourful, expressive mixture that
occasionally sounds a bit like film music. After a powerful culminating moment
of brutality, the quartet ends peacefully with an Orthodox-Christian melody. A
glimmer of hope for peace in the future. Naturally
this all makes for rather strong medicine: an almost placatory, confessional
music that is not exactly “modern” in language, about whose aesthetic qualities
one could have heated debates. In the hands of the St. Lawrence String Quartet,
to whom the works are dedicated, the quartets display ample powers of
Marcus Stäbler, FONO FORUM (Germany), December 2005. (Translation: Robin Elliot)
Wonderful quartets by Greek-born Canadian composer Hatzis are given performances of compelling conviction. The first incorporates Inuit singing and locomotive sounds for a powerful statement about cultural conflict. The second, responds to the Balkans conflict, drawing on diverse musical cultures for inspiration. Engrossing and electric; highly recommended. John O'Donnell, QANTAS IN-FLIGHT MAGAZINE (Australia) December 2005.
Greek-born Canadian Christos Hatzis composes and teaches at the University of Toronto. In his First String Quartet the sounds of the stringed instruments are pitted against the taped sounds of Inuit throat singing and railway locomotives. Hatzis describes this as an encounter between two civilizations: Canada's native cultures and the immigrant cultures which confront them. There is a solo cello melody and its development which Hatzis describes as "a musical affirmation of my faith in the divine". It is simple and hauntingly beautiful, most effective when played against the complexity of the taped music. The Second Quartet was inspired by the recent conflict in Yugoslavia. It is stern stuff, depicting the horrors and absurdities of war. In the fourth movement is found the Troparion, a prayer for spiritual metamorphosis, relief which blunts the ferocity of Hatzis' cry against war. The St. Lawrence String Quartet is one of the preeminent North American chamber music ensembles. Since its founding in Canada in 1989, it has established a reputation for high quality music making in the standard quartet repertory as well as contemporary composition. The Hatzis Second Quartet was commissioned by the St. Lawrence. These quartets are inspired, heartfelt music. They require attentive, repetitive listening and reflection. The recording—made in 2004 for EMI at the Music and Sound Program at The Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta—is first-rate, as is the St. Lawrence Quartet performance. Recommended. Ronald Legum, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION (USA)
Christos Hatzis' life and music have been shaped by several cultural strains. Born in Greece in 1953, now living in Canada, where he teaches at the University of Toronto, his compositions have been influenced by his Byzantine heritage and "proto-Christian spirituality", American minimalism, and Canada's native Inuit "chanting and vocal games." The style is eclectic, what he calls "transnational and transdogmatic," tonal, modal, harmonically and rhythmically static, but with many build-ups and climaxes and surging and receding dynamics. There is much repetition of brief motives and longer phrases; sound effects include harmonics, erhu-like slides, wails, whispers, slashing chords, and sudden explosions. In quartet No. 1, a soundtrack representing Inuit throat singing and the noise of railway locomotives plays alongside the strings. Quartet No. 2 was inspired by the horrors of the war in former Yugoslavia, as well as that between Iran and Iraq, and includes Islamic, Middle Eastern, and Eastern Orthodox musical elements. Hatzis says that his music is "an affirmation of his faith in the divine" and a "form of exorcism against the absurdity of war and senseless violence." Hence, lengthy, calm passages of really beautiful quartet writing appear like oases amid the chaos, with lovely melodies soaring into the stratosphere on one or two instruments, often over an agitated, multilayered counterpoint. The St. Lawrence Quartet, ever-adventurous champions of living composers who commissioned the Second Quartet, plays this fiendishly difficult music superbly, with consummate technical mastery, a gorgeous tone, and total emotional commitment. Edith Eisler, STRINGS magazine August/September 2005, No. 131.
Wednesday's recital by the Super Nova String Quartet in The Music Room series at Scotia Festival of Music stands out as one of the most extraordinary concerts of the two week festival to date. The Super Nova Quartet played Christos Hatzis’s Second String Quartet (The Gathering)...Violinists Jonathon Crow and Mark Fewer, violist Douglas McNabney and cellist Denise Djokic are all power players. The energetic zest of their playing always seems to take the room they are playing in and lift it an inch or two off the ground. Hatzis’s The Gathering, originally written for the St. Lawrence String Quartet and recorded by them, is one of his most powerful chamber music works, and that’s already saying a lot. Its savage dynamism plays to the strengths of both the Super Novas and the Music Room itself — an ideal match of musicians and acoustic. Hatzis was obsessed by the extreme suffering of the people caught up in the Balkan conflict in the "90s. Some of the thematic material derives from Balkan scales and rhythms, others from the chants of the Orthodox Church. The agony is palpable, and while it is already more than enough in the music itself, dancer Susan Lee epitomized it physically with a series of fluent, writhing distortions of her body. Though she made no apparent attempt to mimic the rhythms being ripped out of their strings by the Super Novas, her sense of the creative heart of the music, its dramatic and tortured momentum, were both simple and extraordinary. Stephen Pedersen, THE CHRONICLE & HERALD (Canada) June 8, 2007.
The first of this year's Made in Canada concerts was given yesterday at noon in St. John's Church by the St. Lawrence String Quartet and clarinetist James Campbell. The place was packed. Christos Hatzis's String Quartet No. 2 opened the program. It is a work of great passion and intensity but also of discipline and universality. Written in part as a response to the situation in Kosovo a few years ago and subtitled The Gathering, it would be completely effective to a listener who was not aware of its subtext. People who claim that Canadian composers don't ever write great music have not been paying much attention in recent years. Richard Todd, The Ottawa Citizen (Canada). August 2, 2005.
In the 1980s, Steve Reich wrote a piece called Different Trains, in which the sampled voices of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and the sounds of trains – taking them to the concentration camps, or taking them to freedom – were combined with a string quartet, which sometimes imitated the samples. In the first string quartet by Christos Hatzis (b. 1953), the composer does something rather similar, albeit with different results. Hatzis, who came to Canada from Greece, was impressed by the sound of Inuit chanting and throat singing, and incorporated it into several of his works. As a child, he often rode on a locomotive – his father was a railway engineer. Both of these influences can be heard in "The Awakening." The string players are joined by a prepared tape containing both locomotive sounds and Inuit singing. The live musicians play a sort of commentary to the tape . . . or is it the tape that is commenting on the performance of the live musicians? At times, the music is motoric and harsh; it other times it is reassuring, even inspiring. It is always dramatic. At one point early in the piece, the cello "sings" a melody which Hatzis identifies as his affirmation of his faith in the Divine, "and its ability to bring balance, resolution and simplicity in the midst of the overwhelming complexity we have brought upon ourselves and others." Lest one think that "The Awakening" is a gimmick or a stunt, the second quartet "The Gathering" is for string quartet alone, and is no less powerful. Hatzis's motivation for writing this quartet was his distress over the situation in Kosovo, and of the fate of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia in general. The four movements are titled, "Awakenings," "Fleeting Moments," "Nadir" (a kind of Totentanz initiated by shouts from the quartet's members), and "Metamorphosis." Throughout the quartet, there are allusions to musical styles typical of the Balkans and of the Middle East – a reflection of the region's diverse influences. Much of the quartet is angry and impassioned; the destructive powers of hatred and warfare are never far away. Nevertheless, Hatzis extends an olive branch at the end of the work by quoting an Eastern Orthodox melody referring to the transfiguration of Christ. Hatzis knows how the world is, but he also knows how the world could be. The second quartet was dedicated to the St. Lawrence String Quartet, an ensemble formed in 1989 in Canada. Currently, they are the ensemble in residence at Stanford University. The passion of their playing on this CD makes unfamiliar music achingly familiar. Hatzis is fortunate to have such polished and communicative players performing his music. The recording venue was the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta, and the sound is first-rate. Raymond Tuttle, CLASSICAL NET REVIEW (USA)
It's nice to attend a concert that is a bold reminder that classical music is so much more than just pretty background noise, a concert that is deeply satisfying on an emotional and intellectual level. The St. Lawrence String Quartet's performance was just such a concert.....As it turned out, the first two pieces [Haydn's Quartet in C Major, Op. 1 No. 6 and Ravel's String Quartet in F Major]— as excellent as they were — were preparation for the capstone of the concert, Christos Hatzis' String Quartet No. 2 ("The Gathering"). The piece itself is deeply emotional and thought-provoking, but in the hands of this capable quartet it really took flight. The foursome took the music even a step beyond what they had done in the Ravel. Although the music was performed beautifully, they managed to convey the spiritual meaning and the message so clearly that it was unmistakably in the foreground, and the music itself took second chair to it....The St. Lawrence String Quartet has performed here before, and judging from the size of the audience on Thursday, word has spread about its energized, musical performances. If this trend continues — and it certainly ought to after this last concert — the next one will be to standing room only. Rebecca Howard, DESERET NEWS, Salt Lake City, Utah. September 21 2003,.(USA)
One of the most evocative classical recordings of the year, thus far. This is immensely expressive music by a fascinating and deeply poetic Greek/Canadian composer. The string Quartet No. 1 for Quartet and Prepared Tape is full of Inuit throat singing and locomotive sounds — "A personal awakening to the richness of Canada's native cultures and how immigrant cultures like my own confronted and nearly destroyed them." It's haunting, full of rich melodic lament. No less impressive is the post-minimalist second quartet called "The Gathering." And the playing by the St. Lawrence Quartet is exceptional. J. S., CD LISTENING POST, THE BUFFALO NEWS, May 22, 2005 (USA)
Winning Records [No. 2 in
Best of 2005]
Just when you think the classical recording industry has exhausted itself, reissuing Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" ad nauseam, a batch of invigorating new releases opens the ears. So today, we offer eight favorites from 2005's rich crop of compact discs, ideal stocking stuffers for the curious listener... Christos Hatzis—Awakening; St. Lawrence String Quartet (EMI). A violin paints a lament against the sound of a rumbling train, while someone utters coarse chants in the background. Hatzis' Awakening for string quartet and taped sound takes listeners on a haunting journey that juxtaposes themes of creation and destruction. The music feels like a passing thunderstorm, drenching everything before returning the world to light. Kurt Loft, THE TAMPA TRIBUNE (USA) December 18, 2005.
Christos Hatzis is what in older days would be called an “engaged artist”, a term that nowadays would raise eyebrows rather than generate unconditional support...As a Greek immigrant who ended up in Canada via the USA, Hatzis knows the feeling of homelessness like no other. In his new country he is attracted to the plea of the Inuit, whose culture is threatened with extinction. His String Quartet No. 1 (The Awakening) embodies a tormented pitting of the modern world in a devastating confrontation with the throat songs of the Inuit. The sound of a locomotive train engine not only refers to Hatzis’ youth—his father was railway engineer—but also invokes the eternal circle of progress and decline. String Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering) was inspired by the war in former Yugoslavia and incorporates Balkan melodies in a western minimalist idiom. Both quartets contain also lyrical passages, which invoke Hatzis’ belief in a more harmonious world. The musicians of the St. Lawrence String Quartet play with razor sharp intensity, and Hatzis could wish for no better interpreters of his sumptuous, passionate sound world. Thea Derks, KLASSIEKE ZAKEN Magazine (Netherlands).
Greek-born Canadian composer Christos Hatzis seems to be fairly prominent in his home country, but his music has not been heard much here. On the evidence of this engaging new disc, Hatzis' voice is muscular, probing, a little sentimental and all-embracing—there's very little in the musical landscape that he doesn't enfold into his music. In the String Quartet No. 1 (The Awakening), Hatzis joins rich string harmonies with a recorded tape of Inuit throat singers and locomotive engines; the String Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering), goes even further afield to encompass everything from Philip Glass to Balkan dance music. The result would probably sound hopelessly diffuse if not for the steely assurance with which Hatzis weaves together the disparate threads, and if not for the lush, forthright playing of the St. Lawrence String Quartet, which lends the music an irresistible sonic depth. Joshua Kosman, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, May 22, 2005 (USA).
By now, the St. Lawrence String Quartet has developed an enviable series of such relationships with such eminent composers as [R. Murray] Schafer, Osvaldo Golijov and Christos Hatzis. The quartet's latest EMI album, scheduled for release at the beginning of April, is devoted to Hatzis' String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2, the second of them commissioned by the foursome. The mere fact that such an album is appearing in these days of reduced classical recording represents both a tribute to the quartet's belief in the University of Toronto professor and a tribute as well to a great international record company's belief in the St. Lawrence Quartet....With his roots in proto-Christian spirituality, interest in world cultures and ability to mix and match musical styles, Hatzis is very much a composer of and for our time. Both quartets are multicultural musical odysseys, full of fascinating observations on the troubled age in which we live. William Littler, THE TORONTO STAR, March 26, 2005 (Canada)
Quartet No. 1 requires some explanation. Composer Christos Hatzis says of his work, "... it was composed (1994) at a time in my life which might best be described as a crossroads, musical and otherwise, and was influenced by my own personal awakening to the richness of Canada's native cultures, and to how immigrant cultures like my own (Greek) confronted and nearly destroyed them." He continues "... this encounter of civilizations is depicted in two sounds on the soundtrack that plays alongside the quartet: Inuit throat singing and railway locomotives." Of course it is necessary to know this, else the sounds one hears would be puzzling and would seem to detract rather than add to the composer's invention. His invention, I hurry to add, is quite beautiful. This is expressed most feelingly when the solo cello is heard after the opening section of the piece. Hatzis says cello's ensuing sections "are a musical affirmation of my faith in the divine and its ability to bring balance, resolution and simplicity to in the midst of the overwhelming complexity of have brought upon ourselves and others." Quartet No. 2 (premiered in 2000) was inspired by the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. And as in Quartet No. 1, we must appeal to the composer for a greater depth of meaning. He tells us, "The presence of heterogeneous stylistic elements in this piece also acts as a form of exorcism against the absurdity of war and senseless violence." One should read all of the composer's own explanations of his works that are in the liner notes with this disc. I need only add that, as usual, the splendid St. Lawrence String Quartet responds most eloquently to the demands of this sometimes-difficult music This certainly is no surprise coming from this splendid ensemble, now in residence at Stanford University in California, that, since its organization in 1989, has quickly risen to become one of the premier string quartets in North America. King Durkee, COPLEY NEWS SERVICE (USA) June 14 2005.
Legend has it that Christos Hatzis was a wandering soul until arriving in Toronto. It is undeniable that his work here in past decades has been nothing short of stupendous in beauty and sheer audacity. After Constantinople and Orbiting Garden, a lesser man might have rested on well-earned laurels. But here is the St. Lawrence Quartet's new CD on EMI and I just want to listen to it repeatedly...Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering) is also a lament, in this instance directed at the conflict in Kosovo. The notes tell us that part of this was written during the Iran-Iraq war and subsequently re-worked during the horrific bombardment of Belgrade. The quartet members show themselves masters of the scores, with fiery verve....Top marks! John S. Gray, THE WHOLE NOTE MAGAZINE (Toronto-Canada) May 1 - June 7, 2005
Triumph over Adversity.
...Passion and spontaneity are also hallmarks of the St. Lawrence String Quartet's style, and it was impressive to hear the group playing with such vitality in a Sunday morning concert at the Walter Reade Theater (11 May)....John Adams' highly caffeinated John's Book of Alleged Dances was an apt opener...the quartet reveled in the music's rhythmic high jinks and made each dance a detailed character study. Christos Hatzis' String Quartet no. 2, 'The Gathering', draws on a range of sonic influences, including Eastern Orthodox chant, Western minimalism and Balkan dance music—similar in some ways to the works of Tavener and Pärt. Yet these disparate elements are well integrated and the work has a compelling dramatic structure, which the St. Lawrence made the most of. The result was quite moving and held the audience spellbound. Andrew Farach-Colton, THE STRAD, August 2003 (UK)
...the St. Lawrence String Quartet earned a line in the history books at the Jane Mallet Theatre last night for commissioning and introducing to its Music Toronto audience String Quartet No. 2 by Christos Hatzis. William Littler, THE TORONTO STAR (CANADA)
The piece is about war: The outer movements were composed as a response to the horrors of Kosovo; the third movement is a modification of an earlier work, Nadir (originally scored for flute or recorder, viola and tape), itself inspired by the Iran-Iraq conflict in 1988. It is, like much of Hatzis’ music, a very eclectic "gathering" of musical elements. Indeed the composer makes the point in his program notes that the heterogeneous stylistic elements in the piece serve as a "form of exorcism against the absurdity of war and senseless violence" In other words, if all this diversity—and it ranges here from clear reminiscences of Philip Glass (white-bread slices of daily life, quickly silenced) to gypsy melodies, Orthodox chant, Brazilian tango and, most prominently, Middle Eastern folk music—can co-exist in art, why not in life? And coexist it does, though not easily, moving from prayer to lament and escalating violence in brutal turnarounds. But, however harsh the interruptions, there is more in this piece that flatters the ear than not. One thinks here of the arabesques in the first violin; a hesitant dance against a hollow bass line whose watery, sitar-like fluctuations in pitch tell a separate story all its own; the transformation of an alarm siren into the siren call of departed souls; the counterpoint of melodic gestures that coalesce momentarily on pale triads and then separate again. The impact of violence, Hatzis seems to say, is best measured by the preciousness of what’s around it. Elissa Poole, THE GLOBE & MAIL (CANADA).
Hatzis' quartet, which
closed the program, is a remarkable piece of music. It freely borrows from
everywhere, echoing the work of such composers as Shostakovich and George Crumb
(in particular, his antiwar quartet "Black Angels"). There are even affinities
with Philip Glass, though Hatzis has human warmth and a value of brevity. Hatzis makes Middle Eastern motifs, Arctic barrenness, Eastern Orthodox chant
and top-of-the-lungs shouting converge in striking and ever-shifting ways,
ending on a sigh that sounds simultaneously hopeful and heartbreaking. It was perfect material for this ensemble -- their blazing commitment and
intense energy underlay the performance from start to finish, even if it seemed
that first violinist Geoff Nuttall, his long limbs flailing, was about to hurl
himself off the stage at any moment. James McQuillen, THE OREGONIAN (USA)
I am completely in awe of the beauty and passion of your quartet, not a single note out of place and your message of the absurdity of war is told in a deeply touching manner. I think the world of you as a composer. M. O. Montreal.
I never before thought of writing to tell musicians I enjoyed their work. I was taken aback by the emotional charge I got out of Christos Hatzis' The Gathering. At intermission I hesitantly tried to tell my wife what I got out of the Quartet No. 2: "You know when a person dies there is Nothing! Simply Nothing you can do to get that person back". (I should have added: the spirit is gone forever in this unbelievably huge universe.) I don't know if I GOT IT or not. It had momentarily a horrible feeling of loss, empty vastness. It was a momentary warning of the inevitable other side of life. I am no musician. We the public rely on you to bring us what is worth while. The reason I keep going to concerts is not just to hear neat variations on what I know I like. I also go to hear stuff that is a bit beyond my liking or disliking (paraphrase of Sam in The Lord of the Rings). From a letter by M. R. (Missouri) to EMI Classical and the SLSQ.
Dear SLSQ: I just heard your concert in Kingston— the Hatzis/Tchaikovsky concert. What a fabulous concert! First, when I saw the program, I was disappointed. Not knowledgeable about contemporary music, I rarely like something the first time I hear it, and seldom like it at all. But the Hatzis was magnificent, haunting, amazing, moving, stirring, evocative, wonderful etc. etc. etc. I totally loved it. If you answer mail as well as receive it please let me know if you're planning to record the Hatzis. I collect records and don't usually buy CDs, but I'd buy that one for sure! T. P. Kingston, ON.
"The special event paired Pilobolus, one of the country's favorite modern dance groups, with the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the [Stanford] university's ensemble in residence. The results were electrifying, especially the world premiere commissioned by Stanford Lively Arts. Though it was still untitled on Friday, I think this agonizingly beautiful piece should be called something like "Prayer.'' Michael Tracy's choreography is a chilling lesson in group dynamics, one that seems especially relevant to the current threat of conflict in the Middle East. The work opens with four dancers grouped tightly together under a beam of light, along with music by Canadian composer Christos Hatzis that sounds, at first, like crying. It's no surprise that Hatzis originally wrote the music as a reaction to the brutality of the war in Kosovo. The dancers—Ras Mikey C, Otis Cook, Mark Fucik and Renee Jaworski—begin with scenes of teamwork but quickly fracture into duets whose main purpose is for one member to abuse, subjugate or blind the other. Trading off the roles of aggressor and victim, they break each other down and get broken themselves. Hatzis' score is both exciting and terrifying, and the musicians' shouts of "hey!'' in its middle section sound like a cry of alarm. This is not your mother's chamber music, but rather a score that evokes the alarming complexity of modern life. Toward the end of the piece, when the music becomes quiet and prayerful, the dancers suddenly begin to treat each other with affection and tenderness, an abrupt shift that needed to be explained more clearly through the movement. That said, the final seconds of the dance are unforgettable. Like the Virgin Mary in a Pieta painting, Jaworski holds and supports a fellow dancer with unbelievable gentleness and love. This heartbreaking yet hopeful work carries a message of tolerance that is relevant to families, community groups and even entire nations." Anita Amirrezyani. THE MERCURY NEWS (San Jose, CA—USA)
"Of the many dance companies performing today, Pilobolus may do the most to support Yeats' assertion that it's hard to know the dancer from the dance. (Given the troupe members' penchant to twist themselves together like pretzels, it's even more difficult to distinguish individual dancers from one another.) But in teaming up with the St. Lawrence String Quartet —Stanford's ensemble-in-residence—and Canadian composer Christos Hatzis, the supple and gymnastic dancers have one-upped the late Irish poet: In their new collaborative work, which premiered Friday at Stanford, it's hard to know the dancers from the music. Commissioned by Lively Arts, the new piece was built, for the most part, from scratch. Music and dance seem to flow together organically, like a kaleidoscope." John Sanford. THE STANFORD REPORT (Palo Alto, CA—USA).
Music, choreography and dancing harmonized well in the New York premiere of "My Brother's Keeper," to a melancholy score by Christos Hatzis that was occasionally interrupted when the musicians were required to shout. These surprising interjections intensified the intensity of the work, for which Michael Tracy was the primary choreographer. This was for the most part a serious evening, with few of the goofy gymnastics or bizarre stage effects of other Pilobolus creations. Yet nothing turned lugubrious. Jack Anderson. THE NEW YORK TIMES. June 25 2003.As the curtain rises on ``My Brother's Keeper,'' the four dancers form a parallelogram, swaying in circles to Christos Hatzis' eerie music, performed live by the St. Lawrence String Quartet... ``My Brother's Keeper,'' an arduous, elegant meditation on how quickly support can turn to destruction…``My Brother's Keeper,'' is so graceful. ASSOCIATED PRESS (New York Times) June 24, 2003.
I just saw Pilobolus perform in Anchorage, AK. My boyfriend and I were moved to tears by the St. Lawrence String Quartet's rendition of your composition String Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering). A. C., Alaska.
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