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concerto for four guitarists and orchestra

the feast


Program notes for The Feast Concerto for Four Guitarists and Orchestra

My story:

When I was asked by the Tantalus Guitar Quartet for an original work I had no idea that my quartet Feast for Tantalus it would become the material for one of my favorite guitar concertos The Feast. Tonights performance, very well deserved, is dedicated to those excellent musicians of the Albany Symphony, their conductor Mr. Claire Fox Hillard and of course to the Tantalus Quartet that made this feast possible.

The story:

Tantalus was the son of Zeus and was the king of Sipylos. He was exceptionally favored among mortals since he was invited to share the food of the gods. However, he abused the guest-host relationship and was punished by being "tantalized" with hunger and thirst in Tartarus: he was immersed up to his neck in water, but when he bent to drink, it all drained away; luscious fruit hung on trees above him, but when he reached for it the winds blew the branches beyond his reach.

There are differing stories about what Tantalus' crime was. A famous account says that he invited the gods to a feast and served them the dismembered body of his own son, Pelopas; when the gods discovered the deception, they punished Tantalus and restored Pelopas to life, replacing with ivory a part of the shoulder which had been eaten by Demeter.

This is a work based on the myth of the above mentioned infamous dinner which Tantalus served to the Gods his own son Pelopas as part of the meal...his crime, the passion, the distorted love and all those things that made know...Greeks! Full of imagination, surprises, gruesome attitude, insanity and most of all fun.

The element of surprise is for me an important compositional guidance in my compositional approach. For the Feast, I was intrigued by the possibilities that this surprise element revealed to me. I would like to get some help, in order to discribe my work from my (long gone) teacher John Daverio and borrow his words ten years ago: Apostolos Paraskevas shows us that a meeting point can be found between advanced contemporary idioms and evocations of an almost popular style. This music is notable for its rhythmic verve, its melodic grace, and its emotional depth. It has genuine substance, but speaks directly to the listener-a rare and welcome achievement."

Elements of my own personal musical language are present which incorporate agitated rhythms, virtuosic writing for the guitars, an impressive active part for the orchestra, a passion for life and...Death of course, memorable melodies, a small reminiscence of a style that a modern audience will love...I proudly composed it for the Tantalus Guitar Quartet and the Albany Symphony Orchestra and I truly believe that always a feast after every performance will follow

Apostolos Paraskevas

Boston 2008

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