REDEMPTION: BOOK 1 for string quartet and chamber orchestra: 2 flutes (2nd flute doubling on piccolo), 2 oboes (2d oboe doubling on English horn), 2 clarinets (2nd clarinet doubling on bass clarinet), 2 bassoons (2nd bassoon doubling on contrabassoon), 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone,  1 percussion, strings (6, 5, 4, 4, 2). Commissioned by CityMusic Cleveland for the Pacifica Quartet and the CityMusic orchestra with funds from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Drs. Ali and Sawsan Alhaddad. 2009. Part of the REDEMPTION cycle of works. 36 minutes. Score and parts available through  PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.

1. At The Dawn of Time (Amilius and the Fallen Angels), 10:00 min.
2. Fall from Innocence (Adam & Eve), 13:30 min.
3. Lord of Righteousness (Melchizedek), 12:00 min.

Redemption, Book 1 is a commission by City Music Cleveland for the Pacifica Quartet and the CMC Chamber Orchestra with funds generously contributed by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Redemption is a cycle of works by composer Christos Hatzis on a theme meditated upon by turn-of-the-century American seer Edgar Cayce, namely the story of humanity’s spiritual fall and redemption seen through the various lives of this story’s protagonist, the Master soul whose latest incarnation on earth was as Yeshua of Nazareth. In variance with Christian orthodox doctrine, Cayce sees Christ not as a nature separate from humanity but as a pattern to be worn by every soul during its various journeys through materiality. Conceived and implemented at the beginning of time in order to free humanity from its bondage in materiality, the soul/pattern “Christ” is identified with Biblical personages such as Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek, Joseph, Joshua (Mose’s right hand), Asaph (King David’s psalmist) but also with other personages outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, such as Amilius (the first human manifestation on earth as an energy/spirit projection), Hermes  (the builder of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh according to Cayce), and Zend (the father of Zarathustra and founder of the Zoroastrian religion) among others. The careful study of these individuals, and the esoteric traditions that have sprang forth around them, gives rise to a fascinating cosmological, ethical and soteriological discourse that may help us see these age-old religious traditions in a completely new light and ascribe new relevance to them for our troubled times.  

The music of Redemption is divided into four books. Each book is a stand-alone composition which may be performed independently of its siblings or as a group, each work performed at different times in the course of a day.  

The three movements of Redemption: Book 1 are titled: At the Dawn of Time (Amilius and the Fallen angels), Fall from Innocence (Adam & Eve) and Lord of Righteousness (Melchizedek). The first movement of this book documents humanity’s willful fall from its spiritual habitat and its enmeshment in materiality. Bound by the laws of materiality and sinking deeper into its hard substance, humanity gets corrupted and looses the memory of its imperishable origin with no possibility of escape. Amelius, the first, spiritual Adam of some Gnostic traditions, pleads the creative forces to be allowed to descend on earth and help prepare a way for the trapped souls to return to humanity’s original exalted state. He is warned that this is a difficult task but his love for the lost souls propels him to try. He is not successful and nearly gets trapped and grounded by the attraction of materiality. As he escapes to return back to God he realizes that humanity cannot be “preached” out of its fall. A way must be created, an earthly vehicle, through which the trapped souls may learn over many repeated incarnations the only exit strategy, which is self-sacrifice. The birth of this idea at the spirit level is the beginning of redemption. Its implementation begins with the “Adam project”, the subject of the second movement of the work. 

The music of the first movement is cosmic in nature and draws from “cosmic” elements to fashion its musical material. The central symbol of this movement (and subsequent movements in this and other books) is encapsulated in the opening measures of Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra. This music’s cosmic character owes as much to the movies (its use in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey) as to Strauss’ indebtedness to Friedrich Nietzsche. In Redemption, Book 1, the sudden modulation of the Strauss quotation from C major to C minor and back to a triumphant C major again is used as a symbol of fall and redemption [1]. The first movement is predominately in C major (so the Strauss modulations to the C minor are avoided in the quotation), the second movement culminates in the modulation from C major to C minor (chronicling Adam and Eve’s fall from innocence) and the work returns to C major at the very end of the third movement, thus allowing the Strauss quotation to act as the harmonic pillars that support the structure of the entire work.  

The Strauss C major chord is turned here into a harmonically much richer entity. It draws its complexity from the overtone series (the “cosmic” chord) and the soloists and orchestra are asked to occasionally adjust their intonation into third-tones to better accommodate the 7th, 11th and higher partials of the overtone series which are not compatible with any of the available pitches in 12-tone equal temperament. Very rarely this “chord of nature” is presented in its pristine purity. It is accompanied at the outset with noise (a deafening attack on a tam-tam), extended instrumental techniques (multiphonics and singing and playing for the winds, high-pressure bowing for the strings, etc.), thus representing both the heavenly pattern and its earthly corruption. Two other cosmic chords are drawn from the overtone series: (1) the chord of only those overtones that correspond to the Fibonacci numerical series and (2) the “golden ratio” chord consisting of superimposed microtonal intervals lying halfway between a major and a minor sixth. 

Playing against these three cosmic chords (the overtone chord, the Fibonacci chord and the golden ratio chord) is a twelve-tone row consisting of a hexachord drawn from the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th partials of the overtone series (their 12-tone equal temperament equivalents, that is) and its retrograde inversion. This row represents the earthly corrupting forces in the unfolding of the redemption story. This interplay between the Platonic “forms” and corrupting “necessity” eventually gives rise to consciousness, our empirical way of understanding and interpreting the world around us which is expressed in the music as a gigue for the string quartet, almost immediately “corrupted” by the twelve-tone row as soon as it is introduced.  

The second movement, Fall from Innocence, documents the actual primordial fall as it is allegorically documented in Genesis. As in most of Redemption: Book 1 but particularly in this movement, the string quartet represents the human element, Adam and Eve—one soul entity split into two genders, while the orchestra for the most part represents the physical attraction of the condition of materiality, the draw of consciousness which in Genesis is described as the knowledge that makes one be like “God”. But the true condition of godliness in a human being is innocence and purity of heart. In the music of the second movement this state of innocence is represented by a passacaglia in C major starting with the creative breath of God at the very beginning (sounds of breathing, wind and water: the primordial “soup” from which life emerged) and gradually expanding into a passacaglia at times reminiscent of Pachelbel’s Canon and at other times of movie soundtracks, in other words something that a sophisticated listener might dismiss as “naïve”.  

Against this self-sufficient harmonic world of the passacaglia that constantly cycles, therefore knowing no beginning and no end, the spirit of dissention, the orchestra in this case, makes a counterproposal of harmonic travel. Its process of temptation starts with things the string quartet already knows: a passacaglia-like harmonic cycle, only this one is more adventurous and modulates to areas that would be forbidden within the diatonic harmonic system that the quartet knows and abides in. Even though the orchestra’s progression sounds conventionally harmonic and therefore appears to acknowledge the principles of hierarchy embedded in the Western European common practice harmonic system, this particular harmonic progression is in fact a 12-tone row arranged as a symmetrical succession of major and minor trichords. It is therefore a sinister negation of the hierarchical principles of the common practice harmonic system. The adversary is masquerading as an endorser of the system on the surface while sabotaging it at a deeper level.  

The adversary’s repeated intrusions are progressively stronger and more dissonant, and the “seduction” of the string quartet is progressive but persistent, advancing through bitonality, atonality (modernity), kitsch (postmodernity) and finally pure noise indicating a total collapse. After the collapse, the individual instruments of the string quartet realize their predicament and play for the first time the “naked” statement of the twelve-tone row, thus acknowledging their own corruption by the adversary. As soon as the members of the quartet become aware of their “nakedness”, the orchestra blasts the segment from Strauss’ “Zarathustra” theme modulating from C major to C minor, which is the segment of the theme that represents the fall. This tragic moment is followed by a theme in C minor for the low strings and timpani, which is the opening theme of my Sepulcher of Life, an earlier composition of mine about Christ’s redemptive mission. It seems to say that just as Adam fell in the primordial garden, so he must rise again as the Redeemer and point the way towards the spiritual return home for the whole of humanity through the cross of self-sacrifice. 

The subject of the third movement is out of sequence with the chronological order of the lives of the Master as given by Cayce. Even though the next incarnation of the Master soul is that of Enoch or Hermes (two names, one Hebrew and the other Egyptian, for the same historical person) I felt that the musical treatment of Hermes, the Master Architect of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, should be a book by itself. Melchizedek on the other hand is a personage more tightly tied to the redemptive plan of humankind as expounded in Book 1, so I took the liberty of reversing the chronological order of these two personalities.  

Melchizedek is briefly mentioned in the Book of Genesis as the “King of Salem”, generally believed to be Jerusalem, who as a “priest of God Most High” blessed Abram, who was later renamed Abraham (Genesis 14: 18-20). In several early Christian writings (particularly in one of the scrolls of the Nag Hamadi library of Gnostic writings), Melchizedek is actually identified with Jesus as one and the same entity and there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that some Jewish and Christian traditions of the first century identified Melchizedek and the Messiah as one and the same person.  

The music of this movement is monothematic and borrows the opening theme from Sepulcher of Life, my choral symphony which also serves as the final book of the Redemption cycle. Having just been heard at the conclusion of the second movement, the four-note motive (C, A-flat, G, E-flat) and its six-note extension undergoe several transformations throughout the third movement. This movement is a fractal, which means that it replicates itself at various levels of magnification from the motivic to the overall structure. The four notes of the motive become thus four sections, each based on the respective notes of the fractal motive. In the end of this movement the straussian “redemption” modulation from C minor to C major is introduced in an understated and rather unexpected manner. It is not conclusive, indicating that the larger structure will continue unfolding into the next work in the cycle and beyond.

[1] Throughout the Redemption cycle the Strauss theme symbolizes the fall in its major to minor modulation, redemption in its minor to major modulation and apotheosis in the harmonic progression leading to the triumphant final C major chord.

For a full project description please click HERE. Document is being constantly updated so check again for newer updates.

Premiere performance: October 14, 2009. The Pacifica Quartet, CityMusic Cleveland under the direction of David Alan Miller. Stambaugh Auditorium, Youngstown, Ohio.

Reviews and Comments:

My teenage son, who contemplates a career as a composer, heard your Redemption last night.  On his return, his face reminded me of the description of Moses' face after the theophany on Mt. Sinai.  He was virtually beaming.  He told me that the music made him feel that he wanted to shower--not because the music was unclean, but rather that it was so exalted that he felt HE wanted to be "cleaner" to better apprehend its purity. As you can imagine, I was sorry not to have heard it myself. I am writing first to congratulate on having written such a powerful work of music.  Second, I wonder if it is already available in recording, or if you anticipate its being available in recording soon.  If you keep a list of people who want to be notified when it becomes available, please add my name. E, C., MD, Youngstown, Ohio. 2009 10 14

What an honor to witness the premiere of Redemption: Book 1. Spiritual, cerebral, but also full of hope and joy.  Thank you. E. C., Cleveland, Ohio. 2009 10 15.

Hatzis' score initiates a five-piece cycle about spiritual fall and redemption. The first entry suggests the cycle will be a rich meal with loving tastes of the past wed to modernist flavors. The three movements of "Redemption: Book I" reveal Hatzis' wildly fertile sonic imagination. He makes deft use of the opening from Richard Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra" (so iconically employed in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey) to depict humanity's burden.Elsewhere, the narrative merges novel ideas and established musical forms, including gigue and passacaglia, while traveling between conventional tonality and progressive harmonies. Hatzis makes sure the string quartet, portraying humanity, is placed in lucid balance with the orchestra, which sighs, roars and produces vocal effects. There are moments when the expansive score feels episodic, but Hatzis sustains ample dramatic tension amid vivid instrumental interaction. Adam and Eve's fall from innocence is a gorgeous ballad for string quartet that stops time. Thursday's performance at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights must have come close to Hatzis' dream. The Pacifica Quartet – violinists Simin Ganatra and Sibbi Bernhardsson, violist Masumi Per Rostad, cellist Brandon Vamos – gave eloquent voice to the central duties, conveying the tenderness and torment at the music's heart. Guest conductor David Alan Miller and the orchestra were forceful allies in the voyage. Donald Rosenberg, THE PLAIN DEALER, Cleveland, Ohio.  2009 10 16.

"At the Dawn of Time [Amilius and the Fallen Angels]" began in a primordial ooze punctuated by church-shaking blows on a bass drum, gongs, bleats and lots of percussion. The Pacifica Quartet suddenly and naively broke into a fit of Celtic fiddling complete with 'Hey's' shouted by the orchestra. The Strauss quotation, which returned several times during the work, was surrounded by a haze of chaos. Finally in the struggle of minor and major, major tonalities won. The second movement, "Fall from Innocence [Adam and Eve]", constructed as a passacaglia, began with whooshes and whistles vocalized by the players, string slides and other exotic effects that made the orchestra sound like a big musical slinky walking down the stairs. The Pacifica introduced a lovely, lyrical chorale that suggested Beethoven as reinterpreted by a pop arranger, but then things turned dark with portentous repeated notes on the chimes, followed by curious sounds resembling a leaky concertina. The brass introduced a chirpy, repetitive motive which was then obliterated by percussion before the Zarathustra theme returned. "Lord of Righteousness [Melchizedek]" closed the work, beginning with the sinister underpinning of the contrabassoon, soon to be interrupted by a Mahlerian street band and the Pacifica recapitulating the Celtic fiddling of the first movement, again with 'Hey's'. A lyrical, Vaughan Williams-like passage alternating major and minor led to more Strauss quotations. Full of interesting sounds and obviously fun to play and listen to, Redemption: Book 1 made a big impression on the audience, who gave Hatzis and the orchestra a standing ovation. To our ears, the piece might benefit from some editing: it seems a bit too long for the material and both episodic and repetitive. But this is less of a concert piece than it is a vast religious meditation, undergirded by multiple levels of meaning, not all of them primarily musical. Daniel Hathaway THE CLEVELANDCLASSICAL.COM BLOG, Cleveland, Ohio. 2009 10 20

Redemption: Book 1 is beautiful and a work of great importance.  The first movement bristles with an inescapable energy and I love the rustic shouts from the orchestra mid-way through, the quote of Zarathustra and the wonderful dissonance in its follow-through.  The slow movement is beautiful.  I love the way the third movement starts out eerily to be followed with such lush and expressive melody -- a beautiful end. A. F New York, NY. 2011 11 09

This is indeed a powerful and highly dramatic work for string quartet and orchestra. I am in awe of Christos's incredible command of orchestra colour and his harmonic language is so persuasive and compelling. J.B. Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. 2011 11 10