Following Skalkottas’s path

Young up-and-coming composer Philippos Tsalachouris was commissioned by the Benaki Museum to compose «24 Greek Dances,» based on the celebrated series «36 Greek Dances» by the late Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949). It is well known that the Benaki Museum has in its possession the complete manuscripts of Skalkottas’s original composition, making the commission of a new cycle of music based on the original to a young composer of more than symbolic significance. For Tsalachouris, the project has posed an enormous challenge; inevitably, the young man’s work will be compared to that of Skalkottas. The burden of history also lies on Tsalachouris’s shoulders as modern-day audiences will be looking at old Greek traditions through different eyes. The search for musical themes and the study of the final form that each dance is to take began in the spring of 2005, and the score was completed this last August. In order to be staged, the 70-minute «24 Greek Dances» requires a large symphonic orchestra and mixed choir and there are rumors alluding to the possibility that the new piece will be presented at the Hellenic Festival next summer. The complete 36-dance series composed by Skalkottas comprises traditional dances from almost every region of Greece. Initially trying to avoid his own work becoming identified with that of Skalkottas, Tsalachouris has selected dances that the celebrated Greek composer did not include in his series (from Thrace, the Dodecanese, the Ionian Islands, Asia Minor, Cyprus and Southern Italy, among others), as well as styles that had been previously overlooked.

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