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ob,hn,cl,cb soli, strings, timpani

SYNAXIS is a sinfonia concertante for four soloists with strings and timpani, with one of the soloists taking the lead in each of the four movements.

 Though not a piece of program music, this work reflects the traditional Aristotelian “elements” (earth, fire, water, air); I decided also to connect these with incidents from the career of Orpheus.  Thus the first movement (for contrabass) associates earth with the death of Eurydice and is a dirge; the second (for horn) links fire with the grief of Orpheus and his search for Eurydice; the third (for oboe) is a plaint connecting water (or tears) with O.’s petitions before Hades; and the last (for clarinet) couples air with the flight of O. from the Maenads. He did not get away; at the very end his torn-off head may (according to the myth) be imagined floating across the sea, still singing, to the island of Lesbos, where they erect a shrine to him – which is why the Lesbians were said to be versed in music.


"The concert ended with the premiere of Charles Wuorinen's 20-minute “Synaxis,” a boldly complex and texturally transparent work for four solo instruments and orchestra." New York Times