Odysseus: Dave Eggar, cello soloist
Achaeans: John Schneider and Wim Hoogewerf, microtonal guitars
Steven Antonelli, mandolin
Henry Lowengard, autoharp
David Bernstein, animal horn
Daron Yomtov and Darius Kaufmann, psaltery
Trojan: Tom O'Horgan, serpent
Cyclops: Greg Evans, horn
Aiolius: Larry Cole, bagpipes
Scylla: Jon Catler, electric just intonation guitar
Charybdis: Eric Ross, theremin
Lotos Eater Island: Andrew Bolotowsky, wood flute
Bruce Gremo, shakuhachi
Carole Weber, alto flute
David Galt, ocarina and conch
Cannibals: Perry Robinson, Harold Seletsky, Mark Gustavson, and Daniel Carter, clarinets
The Sea: Virgil Moorefield, percussion
Skip La Plante, 96-tone harp and conch
Tom O'Horgan, serpent and Theremin
Bradford Catler, pedal steel guitar
Rebecca Pechefsky, harpsichord
Robert Maloney, low glass bowl on "G"
Sirens: Carol Flamm and Piera Paine, sopranos
Hades: Ron Kozak, bass clarinet
Leslie Ross, baroque bassoon
Morris Newman, bass racket
Johnny Reinhard, bassoon
Circe: Kayan Clarke, voice
Meredith Borden, soprano
Calypso: Esther Lamneck, tarogato
Holy Cow: Julie Josephson, trombone
Skheria Isle: Victoria Bracco, Ngan-Fong Huang, Elizabeth Lee, Abiola Pollard, Alana Salcer, Siobhan Solberg, Engi Wassef and Janelle Iglesias, homemade percussion
Choreographer: Christine Coppola, choreographer
Props: Orlanda Brugnola and Carol LoPresto
ODYSSEUS (P-200201) was conceived for cellist Dave Eggar following several years of close collaboration with this artist in numerous performances. The work is set to the chronological journey that Homer penned of Odysseus' return from Troy to Ithaca, Greece. The location of St. Paul's Chapel, part of Columbia University, was chosen as the ideal terrain for our exhausted troupe of Achaean Greek soldiers for their encounters with islands of startlingly new instrumental combinations. Each instrument corresponds to a character in the epic, each with unique tunings, indicative of unique personalities. All musicians are improvising throughout. As Athena called the protagonist Odysseus "The Master Improviser," so here Odysseus is a cello in the hands of a true master improviser.
The piece is formed by an Introduction, three full sections, and a coda. It begins in the climate of a post-Trojan War environment, signaled by a gong blast, a shofar player (made of an animal horn), and the introduction of the other Greek soldiers (playing string instruments). After a Trojan violinist makes a last ditch effort before he is dispatched, the Achaeans launch for Lotus Eater Island, where a supply of food caused loss of memory resulting in seven years of drugged enslavement. Odysseus breaks the trance and they are off again, now to visit with Polyphemus on Cyclops Island. Aiolius (god of wind) played by bagpipes is next. And then the troupe is turned into pigs by Circe (played on the Hungarian tarogato), until rescued by Odysseus in a tricky duet.
Following a visit to the underworld of Hades, and private visits with ghosts, Tiresius (played on bassoon) prophesizes how Odysseus must proceed. After a detour back to Circe Island to bury Elpenor (mandolin), having initially lost sight of him when he fell off a roof and died, it is on past the female sirens, and then the twin sea monsters Scylla and Charibdis (electric Just Intonation guitar and Theremin).
In Thrinacia the two remaining guitarists eat the sacred cows and are killed as a consequence by an angry Poseidon. Now alone, Calypso tries to stop Odysseus from going home to his wife: "Son of Laertes, versatile Odysseus, after these years with me, you still long for your old home?" Awash at sea, Odysseus finally lands in Skhiera, largely peopled by young girls (homemade idiophones). After politely refusing their kind offers of a bath, Odysseus returns home in disguise (playing over a towel covering the fingerboard). Our protagonist sets out to confront those who would take his wife and his other valuables away from him.
THE HAUNTING SONG OF THE SIRENS
This way, Oh turn your bow, Achaia's glory. As all the world allows - moor and merry.
Sweet coupled airs we sing, No lonely seafarer holds clear of entering our green mirror.
Please by each purling note, like honey twining from
her throat and my throat, who lies opining.
Sea rovers here take joy voyaging onward, as from our song of Troy,
Greybeard and rower-boy goeth more learned.
Argo's old soldiery on Troy beach teeming, charmed out of time we see,
no life on earth can be hid from our dreams.
Johnny Reinhard's compositions can be heard on Raven, available from www.stereosociety.com. His compositions feature polymicrotonality, the mixing of distinctive tunings in a single composition, as well as the use of new pitch material resources. Reinhard has composed a virtuoso solo polymicrotonal composition for most all musical instruments. He is also a bassoon soloist, Harry Partch vocalist, and director and founder in 1981 of the American Festival of Microtonal Music, Inc. Of particular interest is his finishing important works of composers in exemplary performance, including his realization and premiere of Charles Ives's "Universe Symphony" in Lincoln Center and the Parisian premiere of Edgard Varèse's "Graphs and Time" at the Pompidou Center.