Ithaka : for orchestra
by Andrew Batterham (2012)
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Library shelf no. Q 784.2/BAT 6 [Available for loan]
Ithaka is an island, a poem and a destination.
As the fabled Greek homeland of Odysseus, hero of Homer's "Odyssey", the island kingdom sparkled like a mythical jewel in the Ionian Sea for centuries. The Ithakans were navigators, soldiers and artists to rival the best the Mycenaean world had to offer. The allure of this fabulous past inspired the modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy to pen his now-famous work, which reads as though offering advice to a young traveler about to set sail.
"As you set out for Ithaka, hope the journey is a long one," the poem begins. "Full of adventure, full of discovery."
"Ithaka" is my most recent piece of orchestral music, and it is designed to be both the journey and the destination depicted in Cavafy's poem. It is a musical melting pot, infusing classical form with contemporary harmony and techno rhythms: late-Romantic leitmotivs exist alongside drum grooves, violins play alongside synthesizers, whatever it takes to reach our final destination. There are no ancient Mycenaean warriors here, no Poseidon or one-eyed monsters; just a musical odyssey the listener can take from one era to another.
Odysseus's journey lasted twenty years, but this journey is over in less than twenty minutes. And as Constantine Cavafy wrote, hopefully by the end "you will have become so full of experience, you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean."
Instrumentation: Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets in B flat, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in C, 3 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (2 players), harp, synthesizer, strings.
Duration: 19 min.
Dedication note: For the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Orchestra, Fabian Russell, conductor
Performances of this work
22 Aug 12: Melbourne Town Hall. Featuring University of Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Orchestra, Fabian Russell.
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