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for orchestra

"night wanderings"


Night Wanderings (1996)

"A night in Athens...

A lonely wandering in the nocturnal life of one of the most ancient cities on earth...

A lonely wandering inside the darkness that covers everything we want to avoid..."

Thus Mr. Paraskevas describes the influence on the composition of Night Wanderings. Using his personal idiom as composer he wished to transfer the distinctive Greek musical colors into what he considers his "most Greek-influenced work thus far."

The score of Night Wanderings calls for the typical instrumental forces of a classical orchestra, with the addition of piano and a great variety of percussion, ranging from timpani (four), bongos, and tam-tam to xylophone and sleigh bells.

The work is written in one movement, but one can clearly distinguish the following three parts:

Part One starts with solo timpani, like a distant echo, in 5/8 time - a rhythm which immediately becomes a persistent ostinato. The opening slow section (A) leads to a fast dance, played primarily by the woodwinds (B), only to subside again into a slow espressivo (C), with rapid repetitive patterns on the flute. The fast dance (B) returns, only this time gradually leading to the climax (D) which concludes the first part.

After a short slow introduction to the second part, a solo clarinet line, reminiscent of similar passages in folk songs of northern Greece, soars above the rest of the orchestra.

The solo clarinet leads us to the third part, an energetic tutti, where material from the previous parts are recapitulated. The final sonority of the work, E-minor, is played staccato and sforzando by the whole orchestra.

The 5/8 meter and the characteristic interval of the augmented second (with its "exotic" connotations) permeate the whole piece, and they suggest the influence of familiar rhythmic and modal patterns often encountered in Greek traditional music. As the music evolves one is encouraged to "wander" with the night colors and surprises of the music.

Night Wanderings was written during April and May of 1996 in Boston. Its chamber version premiere was given in Athens in September 1996, with the Hellenic Contemporary Orchestra and Theodore Antoniou as conductor. A year later, Lukas Foss presented the work in Boston with the Boston University Symphony Orchestra in its orchestral version and at Carnegie Hall with the National Festival Orchestra on January 14, 2001.

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