Yannis Kyriakides (3 works)
a conSPIracy cantata (2 voices, piano , electronics)
Ayelet Harpaz , Stephie Buttrich (voices) , Marion von Tilzer (piano)
SPI (a conspiracy cantata) is an electronic work which juxtaposes two forms of cryptic message communication :the clandestine world of spy number transmissions on the shortwave radio, and the enigmatic uttering of the ancient oracle of Delphi.
It is scored for two alto voices piano and electronics. The electronic sounds are made up of layers of radio transmissions, noise textures, pre-recorded voices and sampled piano sounds.
The piece mixes together an archaic modal sound world with an eerie 'cold war' atmosphere.
So-called 'number stations' sprung up on the shortwave radio in the early sixties at the height of the cold war. They are used to transmit coded text messages in numbers, phonetic letters, morse or noise. They are operated by the world's intelligence agencies (such as CIA - MI6 - BND - Mossad - UDBA - KGB -) to relay messages to their agents in the field in an anonymous and undetectable form.
The messages which are transmitted at regular times on certain frequencies on shortwave radio are encrypted with the 'one-time pad' system making them almost impossible to decipher for anyone except the agent in the field who has the particular random set of numbers which are used only once per message.
Although anyone in the world can receive these messages, it is impossible to deduce the destination of the messages nor anything about the content. Many different languages and forms are used for depending on the agency that has sent them.
They vary from simply morse to synthesised voices reading phonetic alphabet strings. These transmissions usually begin with an introduction such as a single letter of the alphabet in morse or a fragment of music played for several minutes (the identity of the sender). The first numbers called are usually a three digit number (the recipient's identity) and there is then a call to attention (bells, gongs, tones or spoken "attention","ready".) A 'group count' giving the number of message elements that are to be sent is then transmitted, followed by the 'groups' which are sets of numbers or phonetically spoken letters . At the end of the groups, there is sometimes a repeat, if not there is an ending indicator, either by a spoken 'end' or a repeat of the introduction music. Though number stations continue to proliferate (in spite of the end of the cold war) no government agency officially admits their existence.
The cast is made, the net is spread,
The tuna will leap on a moonlit night.
Aside from being a religious sanctuary and official divination institution, Delphi was the centre of intelligence and espionage in the ancient Greek world. For centuries the Delphic oracle was influential in many political decisions , it was even obligatory for leaders to consult the oracles before embarking on any enterprises.
The consultation itself took place in the temple of Apollo, underground. The space consisted of a room for the petitioners, an inclosed sanctuary ('adyton') where the Pythia (the priestess through which Apollo was believed to be in contact with) received the oracle, an 'omphalos' (a stone representative of the navel of the earth) and a tripod positioned over a crack in the ground where the vapours (pneuma) from the centre of the earth seeped out.
Each city-state was represented by an emissary or embassy at Delphi where the important oracle pronouncements were scrutinized and their ambiguous language was deciphered and interpreted. Disinformation was rife. The unintelligible babble of the 'pythia' uttered in a state of ecstacy ,was translated into hexameters by the prophet of Delphi. This position was often susceptible to corruption and manipulation.
The verses used in spi (quoted below) were given to Peisistratos by the oracle, encouraging him in his successful attempt to seize Athens and establish his third tyranny.
This work was awarded the Gaudeamus International Composition Prize in Amsterdam (sep 2001) for its originality and skill in weaving many layers into a work which sustains a high degree of tensions over 45 minutes.
for voice.insect sounds and drum machine (15')
Ayelet Harpaz (voice)
an electronic garden of eden - a drum machine calls out to its fellow rhythm machines in nature - homoptera - hymenoptera - orthoptera - heteroptera - a song of mating and territorial definition.
for piano and sine waves
Four small speakers playing a constant signal of sliding sine-tones are installed inside a piano where they create sympathetic vibrations with the strings. The piano picks out single notes from this slow flowing harmonic stream. The zen-like nature of this piece is inspired by the pre-socratic philosopher Parmenides who coined the oxymoron "hydatorizon" (water-rooted) to describe his world view in both a material and metaphysical sense. He compares the mind to something like floating seaweed - groundless and drifting - to be rooted in water in one sense is to have lost one's roots.
Yannis Kyriakides was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1969 and emigrated with his family to England in 1975. After travelling for a year with his violin in the near east he returned to England to study musicology at York University, later being drawn by the music of Louis Andriessen to move to The Netherlands, with whom he studied under at the Hague Conservatory.
At that time he also had the inspiring opportunity to collaborate on three projects with the maverick electronic composer/theatre-maker Dick Raijmaakers.
He currently lives in Amsterdam where he works as a composer and musician in a variety of genres including concert music, electronic improvisation, contemporary dance, theatre and film.
His works have been performed and broadcast around Europe by groups including ASKO (NL), LOOS(NL), Maarten Altena Ensemble (NL), Icebraker(UK), Jane's Minstrels (UK), Ugly Culture (D) - and has collaborated with many dance and theatre groups including The Dutch Naional Ballet, Theatergroup Hollandia and Theatergroup De Appel.
He won the Gaudeamus Compostition Prize in September 2000 for SPI (a conspiracy cantata).
His musical language is often characterised by shifting speeds unfolding on long time spans - often with a high rhythmic energy - the use of unorthodox sound sources and an exploration of spaces or atmospheres that highlight the sensual (physical sound) - perceptual (temporal experience) and conceptual (language/culture) experience of music.