Music of Chris Theofanidis

Music of Chris Theofanidis

Music of Chris Theofanidis

I Corinthians 13

The Prayer of Saint Francis

The Discovery

Fantasy for Two Pianos


Suite for Flute & Piano



String Quartet No. 1

Disruption for Orchestra

The two choral works heard on this recording, I Corinthians 13 and The Prayer of Saint Francis, werer written on the suggestion of John Proffitt for the Roberts Wesleyan College Chorale of Rochester, New York, under the direction of Robert Shewan, who have taken both works on tour with success. The Prayer of Saint Francis was completed in early 1994, and is scored for SATB chorus and organ. Its subdued, reflective mood complements the famous text attributed to the 13th-century Italian mystic in celebration of selflessness and personal sacrifice. The somewhat earlier (1992) I Corinthians 13 is both extroverted and jubilant, and is scored for chorus, organ, brass and timpani. The New Testament text from St. Paul celebrates love (agape) as that aspect of personal character which overshadows all other virtues.

The Discovery is a collection of orchestral scenes written for the documentary film Discovery Interdependence. The film focuses on the experiences of a week-long camp that integrates handicapped and non-handicapped teenagers in an environment of self-worth and "interdependence."

Fantasy for Two Pianos was originally intended for one piano, but the wit and repartee I wanted in the outer sections, and the ominous, heavy plodding I wanted for the middle section demanded the dialogue and strength of two. All three sections are built on the same three-note idea.

The short song cycle, Voices, is set for soprano and orchestra. Each setting represents an American poet: Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, and Adrienne Rich. I first encountered the Dickinson poem in a song by Aaron Copland. It has an epic quality that immediately caught my attention. The Pound poem is really a fragment based on the meter of a Chinese poetical form. The Rich poem is a scathing indictment of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (which, for the record, I disagree with, but it's a great poem anyway). Voices was written for my wife, Darla.

Suite for Flute and Piano was commissioned by Houston-based flutist Karen Bennett in 1988. The first and third movements are light-hearted and fast; the second is a theme and variations in the guise of a melancholy lullaby.

The octet, Sikelianos, has its roots in Indian musical tradition. The form basically arises from the building and expanding of a melodic pattern. Key intervals and rhythms are brought out in the piece's understated beginnings and eventually bloom into a melody, which returns again, more elaborately, two other times. One striking feature of Indian music that I adopted in this piece is the constant gravity and growth toward the climax. The piece is essentially an extended crescendo, but it ends abruptly at the height of its momentum. The octet's instrumentation is an unusual extension of the Pierrot ensemble, with the anomaly being two conga players. The auxilliary percussion includes marimba, log drum, crotales, chinese cymbal, sizzle cymbal, suspended cymbal, and gong. Sikelianos is a family name, and the piece is dedicated to my brother, Paris.

The five episodes that make up Statues all draw on the same core of pitch material and are all built on sonic impression and gesture. Often the music is permeated with a feeling of stasis or timelessness, and it is precisely this quality that makes it so very different from my other pieces, which emphasize momentum. Statues is dedicated to Claude Caux, a close friend of the family who, to everyone's disbelief, took his own life in 1991.

The melodies of the String Quartet all have a similar flavor because they all use the same succession of intervalsa minor third and minor second over and over. The rhythmic vitality is dependent on the repetition of the tunes in different meters. For instance, after the broad introduction, the melody is heard first in triple meter then immediatley following in duple meter. This ever-shifting rhythm is what gives the quartet its bounce.

Disruption is based on a five-note rhythm (heard in the opening five "crunch" chords) and a five note melody (heard in the following horn passage). Everything else in the piece springs from these two things combining or barbarically interrupting each other.

My deepest gratitude goes to John Proffitt, who made this project a reality; to Dean Keller and the Eastman Recording Arts and Services for the Eastman recordings; and to Robert Freeman and the Eastman School for their support. I would like to dedicate this disc to my mother, who has supported me through everything.

Chris Theofanidis

New Haven, December, 1992


Chris Theofanidis was born on 18 December 1967 in Dallas, Texas. Although introduced to the piano at an early age, Theofanidis did not start composing until 1987. In that year he began his studies with David Ashley White at the University of Houston School of Music, where he received a BM in composition. He went on to get his master's degree from the Eastman School of Music working with Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner. During 1992/93 he worked with Jacob Druckman in the doctoral program at Yale.

Theofanidis cites his father, Iraklis, as his most important musical influence. Iraklis Theofanidis (1926-1986) was a classically trained pianist and composer from Samos, Greece, who came to New York on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1952.

Theofanidis's musical interests are very diverse, as evidenced by the works represented here. While he has distanced himself from the idea of stylistic collages within a piece, he feels that each work is free to explore a brand new musical territory as long as it presents a unified musical vocabulary.


I Corinthians 13 for chorus, brass, percussion and pipe organ

Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love,

I am become like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

And though I have the gift of prophecy,

And understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

And though I have all faith so that I can remove mountains,

And have not love, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,

And though I give my body to be burned, and have not love,

It profiteth me nothing.

Love suffereth long and is kind. Love envieth not, love vaunteth not itself.

Love is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own,

Is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity,

But rejoiceth in the truth.

Love never fails. So now abideth faith, hope and love,

But the greatest of these is love.

St. Paul, from

I Corinthians 13

Voices for soprano and chamber orchestra

The world feels dusty when we start to die.

We want the dew, then, honors taste dry.

Flags vex a dying face,

but the least fan stretched by a friend's hand cools like the rain.

Mine be the ministry when thy thirst comes,

Dews of thyself to fetch and holy balm.

Emily Dickinson

The petals fall into the fountain, their orange-colored rose leaves, their ochre clings to stone.

Ezra Pound

A man in terror of impotence or infertility, not knowing the difference

A man trying to tell something howling from the climacteric music

of the entirely isolated soul.

Yelling at Joy from the tunnel of the ego.

Music without the ghost of another person in it,

music trying to tell something the man does not want out,

would keep if he could gagged and bound and flogged with chords of joy

where everything is silence

and the beating of a bloody fist upon a splintered table.

Adrienne Rich


I Corinthians 13

Darla Barrow-Theofanidis, Bereniece Jones,

Anisha McFarland, Kristi Trimble, Camille Zamora, sopranos;

Kathleen Hayes, Katherine Lawson, Lynn McMurtrey, Jennifer Sampson,

Marianne Saunders, altos;

Shawn Bell, Tony Griffey, Tae Kwak, Dillon Parmer, tenors;

Walther DuMelle, Keith Richard, Jason Smith, Benjamin Sosland, Richard Webster, basses;

Brenda Clay, Kiri Tollaksen, trumpets; Mark Babbitt, Alex Freeman, trombones;

Patrick Long, percussion; Shafer Mahoney, timpani; Peter Baichi, organ

Voices (1992) for soprano and chamber orchestra

The Discovery (1992) for chamber orchestra

Darla Barrow-Theofanidis, soprano;

Jean Beaudoin, flute; Michael Manning, John Shertle, clarinets;

Jennifer Gunter, Deanna Wagner, bassoons;

Brenda Clay, trumpet; Lisa Hammer, Laura Strand, horns; Patrick Long, percussion;

Adelaide Baughman, Emily Bowman, Cassandra Cherry, Heather Haughn, Emily Lin, Maria Lin, Melanie Olsen, violins;

James Coleman, Victoria Kuan, Dana Polson, violas;

Andrew Kolb, Jonathan Manson, Deborah Wilson, cellos;

Paul Barsom, Igor Pecevski, basses.

Disruption (1991) for orchestra

Jean Beaudoin, Jennifer Hambrick, flutes;

Michael Manning, John Shertle, clarinets;

Robert Craven, Lisa Hammer, Morgan Hastings, Cynthia Ross, Laura Strand, Caroline Whiddon, horns;

Herb Smith, David Klein, trumpets;

Mark Babbitt, Matthew Wozniack, Alex Freeman, trombones;

David Carlisle, Patrick Long, percussion; Shafer Mahoney, timpani;

Adelaide Baughman, Zeneba Bowers, Emily Bowman, Cassandra Cherry, David Chew, Jennifer Farquhar, Paloma Griffin, Heather Haughn, Julia Lee, Hee-sum Leem, Emily Lin, Maria Lin, Matthew Loden, Kayo Miki, Melanie Olsen, Marissa Regni, Eriko Yoshida, violins;

James Coleman, Victoria Kuan, Dana Polson, Lara Roberts, Kristin Shoup, violas;

James Holland, Andrew Kolb, Jonathan Manson, Carter Melin, Deborah Wilson, cellos;

Paul Barsom, Igor Pecevski, Burke Shaw, Jesse Watras, basses.

I Corinthians 13 (both performances), Voices, & Disruption for Orchestra recorded in Downtown United Presbyterian Church, Rochester, New York, C.B. Fisk tracker-action organ.

Fantasy for Two Pianos and Suite for Flute & Piano recorded in Dudley Recital Hall, University of Houston, Hamburg Steinway piano.

The Discovery, Sikelianos, Statues, and String Quartet No. 1 recorded in Kilbourn Hall, Eastman School of Music. (Technical support provided by Recording Services, Eastman School of Music.)

The Prayer of Saint Francis recorded in St. Louis Roman Catholic Church, Pittsford, New York, Visser-Rowland tracker-action organ.

Music of Chris Theofanidis

I Corinthians 13 (1990) (3:32)

Rochester Composers Chorus & Brass Ensemble

Peter Baichi, organ

Chris Theofanidis, conductor

The Discovery (1992) (7:04)

Barrow Chamber Orchestra

Chris Theofanidis, conductor

Fantasy for Two Pianos (1988) (7:38)

Mauricio Nader, Nancy Weems, pianos

Voices (1992) (4:56)

Emily Dickenson (1:41)

Ezra Pound (1:11)

Adrienne Rich (2:03)

Darla Barrow-Theofanidis, soprano

Barrow Chamber Orchestra

Chris Theofanidis, conductor

Suite for Flute & Piano (1989) (9:04)

Allegro giocoso (2:31)

Andante cantabile (3:15)

Vivace (3:16)

Karen Bennett, flute; Chris Theofanidis, piano

Sikelianos (1992) (5:30)

Denise Cohen, flute; Christian Ellenwood, clarinet

Adrian Justus violin; James Holland, cello;

Mauricio Nader, piano

David Carlisle, Stefon Harris, congas; Gareth Farr, percussion

Shafer Mahoney, conductor

Statues (1992) (9:22)

Partial symmetries (2:16)

Eros (2:15)

Unstuck sound (:54)

Visigoth (:51)

Bard (2:58)

Mauricio Nader, piano

String Quartet No. 1 (1990) (9:26)

Adrian Justus, Maria Lin, violins

Timothy Lees, viola; James Holland, cello

Disruption for Orchestra (1991) (3:51)

Rochester Composers Orchestra

Chris Theofanidis, conductor

The Prayer of Saint Francis (3:52)

I Corinthians 13 (3:33)

Roberts Wesleyan College Chorale

Paul Shewan, Julie Smith, trumpets

Gregory Mohr, Lee Ann McClean, trombones

David Ciarvella, timpani; Timothy Schutt, cymbals

Ann Musser Honeywell, organ

Robert Shewan, conductor

TOTAL TIME = 69:50

A digital master recording produced by John Gladney Profitt