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String Quartet No.1: The Awakening (Preview)

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by Christos Hatzis | String Quartet and Digital Audio

promoted Inuit culture

promoted Inuit culture around the globe. His strongest inspiration is his own religious faith, and his religious works have been hailed by critics and audiences alike as contemporary masterpieces. In addition to composing and teaching, Hatzis has written extensively about composition and contemporary music. His writings have been published on Interface, Organized Sound and Harmony, are increasingly translated into other languages and are frequently listed as required reading for music courses in tertiary educational institutions. Two of Hatzis’s works – String Quartet No.1: The Awakening (PE117) and Constantinople – have earned him Juno Awards for Classical Composition of the Year (2006 and 2008, respectively) by a Canadian composer. In 2008 Hatzis also received the Jan Matejcek Concert Music Award, awarded to the most performed and broadcast Canadian composer of the year. In 2010 Hatzis was commissioned by virtuoso violinist Hilary Hahn to write a new work for violin and piano. The resulting work, Coming To (PE119), appears on Hahn’s album In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores, which went on to win the 2015 Grammy Award for Chamber Music / Small Ensemble Performance. A second commission from Hahn soon followed, with Hatzis writing the hyper-virtuosic Dystopia (PE121) for solo violin. In 2013 the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra commissioned Hatzis to score a major new ballet work, Going Home Star: Truth and Reconciliation. Hatzis collaborated with award-winning aboriginal throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Steve Wood and the Northern Cree Singers in creating the score for the groundbreaking production. The ballet’s subject matter is close to the composer’s heart as it confronts the impact of the residential school system on Canada’s aboriginal young people. Upon premiering in October of 2014, Going Home Star received critical acclaim. Most of Hatzis’ writings and other information about the composer can be found at http://www.hatzis.com. PE117 – iv

String Quartet No.1: The Awakening (1994) String Quartet No.1: The Awakening sees the string quartet augmented by the incorporation of an accompanying digital audio part that draws out the inherent musicality of both Inuit throat singing and locomotives. Hatzis samples these sounds in ways that can give the impression of vague memories materialising and then receding, while in other moments they come into sharp focus, the rhythmic nature of these sound sources becoming a driving force alongside the quartet as the piece accumulates momentum and urgency. At other times the quartet’s material is underpinned by synthesizer textures that appear in turn as cavernous low chords, playful twinkling, or mutated simulations of ricochet bowing that extend the timbral palette of the live players. The emotional terrain of the work ranges from poignant to hostile to light-hearted, with these shadings realised through demanding but captivating string writing that employs fluid, microtonal glissandi, forceful tremolo bowing and expressive, mournful melodic lines. After trading statements with the quartet in the work’s energetic climax, the digital audio departs, leaving the unaccompanied players to see out a final extended passage that reprises the work’s sombre thematic material. String Quartet No.1: The Awakening was commissioned and premiered by the Smith Quartet, with funding support from the Canada Council and the London Arts Board (UK). The premiere performance was given at St Alsege Church, Greenwich, London, UK on 11 June 1994. It has also been recorded by the St Lawrence Quartet for the EMI Classics album Christos Hatzis: Awakening. The composer writes: String Quartet No.1: The Awakening was a turning point in my career as a composer. It was composed at a time in my life which could best be described as a crossroads — musical and otherwise. The two most prominent and immediately recognizable references in this work are Inuit throat singers and locomotive engines. The former had been haunting me since 1992, the year I worked on a CBC radio documentary, The Idea of Canada. It was then that I first became exposed to the chanting and vocal games of the native PE117 – v

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