George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was a Greek-Armenian mystic and spiritual teacher who devised a system of self development based on the ancient teachings and wisdom of both East and West. Much of this knowledge was gained from extensive travels in Central Asia, Russia and Egypt, where Gurdjieff witnessed and collected sacred dances and music from remote monasteries and nomadic tribes. Through this fusion of cultures he taught his pupils to expand their consciousness into a new self-awareness, which liberated and transcended their everyday state of hypnotic "waking sleep" into a true perception of reality.
He called this ancient music along with the art of the ancients, such as the Taj Mahal, the Buddha and The Sphinx, 'objective art.' Art that is universal and only expresses man's essence as opposed to modern 'subjective art', which expresses man's ever-changing subjective emotions.
Gurdjieff considered that 'objective' music was a key to discovering our true nature by elevating us to a higher level of consciousness and hence freeing us from the chains of our subjective emotions. He taught his pupils to hear the music without listening. "You no longer hear or feel with body but with consciousness. Then you are on a higher level....outside is noise of world. Inside is music of self."
The music works on many levels. On the surface it consists of simple melody and harmony but also has a deep hidden structure based on ancient laws of sacred geometry and acoustics, thus touching a distant part of us reaching back thousands of years.
Between the years 1925-1927, Gurdjieff, with the help of the Russian composer, Thomas de Hartmann, transcribed the ancient melodies Gurdjieff had collected on his travels. The results of this collaboration were four distinct volumes of piano music, numbering over 200 individual pieces. These works have been traditionally performed and recorded on piano, but never for string quartet until now.
The arrangement of these works for string quartet has provided a greater depth to the music than can be offered by a piano alone. In a sensitive and subtle approach to the music, Solaris have created a new way in which these ancient melodies can be both performed, and enjoyed by audiences into the 21st Century.
THE SOLARIS QUARTET
The quartet’s busy schedule includes appearances at major concert venues throughout Britain and Europe, including regular invitations to perform at London’s South Bank. Film soundtracks, radio and television broadcasts, educational projects and masterclasses form an important part of the quartet’s programme.
Solaris is one of this UK’s leading interpreters of Entartete Musik – music banned by the Nazis. Gideon Klein, Hans Krasa and Pavel Haas are among the talented composers from this dark period of history whose music the quartet is helping to keep alive. The quartet works closely with the Imperial War Museum and Beth Shalom National Holocaust Centre to bring performances of this little-heard music to festivals and concert halls throughout the United Kingdom. Solaris has performed at the German Embassy in London for an international Holocaust Education Seminar.
The quartet has a strong commitment to new music with several works having been dedicated to the group, including Barrington Pheloung’s String Quartet no.9, William Attwood’s Contracorrientes and a song cycle based on A.E.Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad, the poems being set by several young composers. Solaris has also collaborated with virtuoso melodeon player Luke Daniels in his project The Lost Music of the Gaels performing throughout the UK and to a sell-out Royal Festival Hall. In 2009 the quartet finished a major collaboration with the Imperial War Museum titled ‘In Memoriam’ - a composition competition for young composers taking inspiration from the exhibition of the same name commemorating the 90th anniversary of the end of the 1st World War.
Solaris is also active in the education field having enjoyed a highly productive residency at the London College of Music. They regularly give workshops to a wide range of students including a highly successful music and ICT presentation for Primary Schools called Strings n Things.