REDEMPTION: BOOK 3 for orchestra: 1 piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 1English horn, 2 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 1 contrabassoon, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombone, 1 bass trombone, tuba, 4 percussion, timpani (1 player), keyboards (celeste, piano—1 player), strings (14, 12, 10, 10, 8). Commissioned by The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the 2013 Winnipeg New Music Festival. Duriation: 30 minutes. Score and parts available through PROMETHEAN EDITIONS.
1. Dreams of Power (Joseph in Egypt), 10:00 min.
2. Exodus (Joshua), 10:00 min..
3. The Psalmist (Asaph), 10:00 min.
Redemption is a cycle of works 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 that in its latest incarnation on earth was known 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 desiring to be reunited with its source 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 approximately 20 other incarnations which Cayce did not specifically mention. 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 several 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 or over several consecutive days.
The three movements of Redemption: Book 3 are titled: Dreams of Power (Joseph in Egypt), Exodus (Joshua) and The Psalmist (Asaph). In contrast to the cosmic personalities of the earlier books in the cycle (Amilius, Adam, Hermes/Enoch, Melchizedek), the personalities that form the subject of Redemption: Book 3 are considerably more "human" signifying a new phase of the "Christ" pattern which actively engages with history, often quite aggressively, culminating in the singular act of self-sacrifice that defines the "Christ" pattern as a whole and as the only pattern that will ultimately enable the fallen angels, us, to permanently transcend the limitations of materiality. The musical depiction of these characters and their stories is not programmatic. Each movement focuses on one aspect of their personality and is a meditation on this aspect. The same or similar themes proliferate throughout the entire cycle and act as leitmotifs. The central leitmotif is borrowed from the opening measures of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra, the sudden modulation from C-major to C-minor symbolizing the Fall and the reverse modulation from C-minor to C-major symbolizing Redemption.
In Dreams of Power, the first movement, the musical metaphor for "power" references the kind of music that stands for power in contemporary movie soundtracks, whereas the metaphor for "dreams" is indebted to two seminal figures of 20th Century music, Anton Webern and Claude Debussy. Starting with Joseph, the Christ pattern emerges in history as fully human, perfect in many ways but also slightly arrogant: Joseph's dreams always place him ahead of his older brothers provoking their ire and envy. This Prince of Egypt is a pivotal figure still with right hemispheric dominance (dreams and intuitions and a consciousness of its fall in Eden musically depicted by the Fall motif of the Strauss/Zarathustra theme) but also with a growing left-hemispheric shrewdness (his ability to rise up the social ladder of Egyptian society and successfully manage the seven-year famine crisis.)
According to Cayce, Joshua is a much more central figure in Exodus than the actual Book of Exodus reveals. Allegedly, he was the author of this book as well as of the Book of Genesis that precedes it so, to the extent that he is able, he paints himself out of his own picture, always allowing a native Jewish leader to become the protagonist of this remarkable story. It is possible to see the story of Exodus as the first emergence of left-hemispheric predominance in the brain and the first evidence of a divided brain in human history. Moses, a right-brain individual who has the ability to speak with God, is however unable to speak coherently and relies on his close relative, Aaron (a left-brain individual with the gift of language), to do all the talking to both the Israelites and the Egyptian Pharaoh. The Exodus itself can be viewed as an exit from Egyptian mysticism and into a new religion constituted by clear rules and regulations, the Mosaic Law. This is a story of hemispheric contest: rule of law on one hand strictly adhered to paired with erratic eruptions of anger and vengeance on the part of God (through Moses' utterances,) possessiveness and claims to Promised Lands that still rock our contemporary universe. Through all this, Joshua is the emerging Logos: obedient, dispassionate even when cruel and self sacrificing, in the sense of willingly accruing a karma that will need to be balanced in a future incarnation as Yeshua of Nazareth. In the music, the emerging Logos imagery is depicted by the emancipation of left-brain processes: relentless motivic development, sonic environments not grounded in tonal reality, which are the incidental result of internal motivic processing, as well as increasing contest with right-brain chaos and left-brain empty triumphalism towards the end of the movement. Redemption: Book 3 has very few original motifs and themes. They all exist in a more embryonic form in Book 1 or are presaged here and developed further in Book 5 (chronologically, Books 1 and 5 were completed prior to Book 3). In Exodus, the principal (Celtic-sounding) "theme of revelry" had been introduced in the first and second movement of Book 1, but here it undergoes several more deliberate transformations that are consistent with the "left-brain" outlook of this movement.
The musical material of The Psalmist (Asaph), the third movement of Book 3, is borrowed in its entirety from earlier and later books. It begins with the harmonic progression based on four triads in major-minor sequence, which form a 12-tone row. This is the theme of the Tempter in the Garden of Eden in Book 1 (a sinister-sounding row pretending to be tonal harmony) but here it forms the harmonic backdrop against which "fallen" life defines itself. It is paired with other non-dynamic tonal systems, like whole tone scales or augmented triads to form a quiet meditative space from which pre-existent thematic material emerges: an elegant slow dance in triple meter for the English horn followed by the late romantic "Redemption" theme which eventually reaches full fruition in the last movement of Book 5 subtitled Sepulcher of Life. Here the Logos finds quiet expression in the soft overtone harmonies at the end of this movement with the quiet and cryptic modulations to the C-major ("Redemption") motif of the Strauss/Zarathustra theme. Asaph, the psalmist of kings David and Solomon, is, according to Cayce, another incarnation of the Master soul who wrote himself more or less out of the books about the Hebrew kings that he originally authored. We know him from a few psalms that are attributed to him, although I suspect that most of those psalms attributed to David and the Wisdom of Solomon are probably his. Of all the sojourns of the Master soul on earth, this one seems to be the most quiet and uneventful one. A psalmist and prophet, he and his offspring were a family of musicians and, in subsequent generations, the Temple musicians in Jerusalem were known as the "Sons of Asaph". Willingly receding into the mists of time, this Master musician quietly prepared the prophetic ground for his subsequent incarnation as the Son of the Living God that would gloriously complete the pattern of His earthly existence (and ours) on the Cross of self-sacrifice.
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Premiere performance: January 20, 2013. The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Alexander Mickelthwate. Part of the 2013 Winnipeg New Music Festival. Centennial Hall, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
Greek-born Canadian composer Christos Hatzis' Redemption Cycle is a cycle of five works based on the theme of humanity's spiritual fall and redemption. The WSO commissioned and premièred Book 3 in honour of Hatzis' 60th birthday. The first movement, Dreams of Power (Joseph in Egypt), began as dark and brooding, blossoming into a complex mélange of dramatic orchestration. At times, it was full-bodied and mysterious, then suddenly effects came from every nook and cranny of the orchestra. It was substantial, while at the same time, sparkling and magical. A little country peeked out from Exodus (Joshua), before it became raucously uninhibited with plenty of percussion and piano thrown in for good measure. Bird calls and wind whooshed through. Violist Scholz dug into his feisty solo and musicians yelled, "Hah!" as the movement drew to a frenzied end. Crying seagulls opened The Psalmist (Asaph), which featured an ultra-sultry English horn solo playing the leitmotif that continued on oboe before being picked up by the orchestra. This captivating work is one you will want to hear again and again. Gwenda Nemerofsky, Winnipeg Free Press (Canada) Jan. 30, 2013
Wow! What an incredible piece! So rich and textured, such an amazing blend of styles and colours. I am disappointed I won't hear the premiere—but so glad to see you and hear you in your element and at the peak of your creative work. J.F. Halifax, NS
My dear Christos, I heard from J. that the premiere went very well. I loved what I heard yesterday... FANTASTIC... you have such a rich language and deep soul! Your orchestrations are out of this world, they are so true to your message. I'm so sorry I was not able to stay another day. . . May God continue to bless you and indeed us through your great and holy gift. P.T. Halifax, NS