Synchronos: New Greek Voices

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The Kombos Collective has released a new album that highlights exciting music by living and 20th-century Greek composers. Synchronos: New Greek Voices features debut recordings for flute, ghostplate, and other instruments in an eclectic collection of classically-inspired music.

Talos Dreams

The focus of the release is Talos Dreams, a GCMP commission composed by Costas Dafnis, which explores the concept of made versus born. Inspired by the real and imagined automatons of ancient Greece, this 30-minute work features the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument he built and designed with Bay Area improviser Tom Nunn. Its sonic palette — atmospheric, echoing, wispy, and metallic — sounds remarkably electronic for an acoustic instrument. The ghostplate creates a soundscape that is at once familiar and extraordinary. 

Composer Costas Dafnis playing the ghostplate

Dafnis’ work takes its cues from Gods and Robots, a book by Stanford scholar Adrienne Mayor, revealing that the earliest concepts of automatons, robots and artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece — first in mythology, and later in self-moving devices and robots. The line between human and not human, born vs. built, is an AI concept that’s not only recent, but in fact thousands of years old.

Talos Dreams is commissioned by the Kombos Collective with generous support from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Faculty Grant. Learn more about this project

Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute
Ellie Falaris Ganelin | Photo by Kate Mikhailov
Mary Voutsas | Photo by Donnie Riggs

The album also features music for flute and piano performed by Kombos Collective director and flutist Ellie Falaris Ganelin and pianist Mary-Victoria Voutsas. It includes Grecianas Brasileiras by Dinos Constantinides, Louisiana State University professor of composition. A much-revered composer, his music has been performed around the world, including his native Greece. The piece is a spritely blend of Brazilian rhythms and Greek melodies, aptly capturing the composer’s musical style. The album also includes the debut recording of Four Greek Dances by Georgios Kasassoglou (1908-1984), an award-winning 20th-century composer of art songs, music for the stage, as well as orchestral and chamber music. The music of Kasassoglou has a unique voice that captures the Greek spirit, and Four Greek Dances is no exception. 

Ellie Ganelin, Ariel Wang, Joe Goodkin, Lewis Patzner
Premiere of Words of Grief in March 2020 at San Francisco State University. Personnel: Ellie Falaris Ganelin (flute), Ariel Wang (violin), Joe Goodkin (guitar) and Lewis Patzner (cello)

The album includes Ganelin’s own composition, Words of Grief, a melodious waltz for flute, guitar and strings that intuitively transitions between classical, folk and jazz. It premiered last year at San Francisco State University in a concert retelling of Homer’s The Iliad. The piece accompanied a series of Homeric translations by Classics students projected on-screen, handpicking timeless excerpts that captured universal concepts of the human experience. 

Ellie Ganelin in her home recording studio

Production of the album was custom-fit to accommodate life during the pandemic. All of the artists recorded their parts of the music remotely. “In certain styles of music, it’s common to ‘sample’ different instruments separately and put it all together in the production stage,” says Ganelin. “But in chamber music, artists are used to playing together in an intimate setting. Chamber musicians are always listening, adapting and responding in the moment — there’s so much interplay. Since it wasn’t safe for the artists to record in the same space at the same time, we adapted the music-making process so we could still listen and respond as musically as possible.” 

Album Credits

Artists: Ellie Falaris Ganelin (flute), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Ariel Wang (violin), Lewis Patzner (cello), Joe Goodkin (guitar), Mary-Victoria Voutsas (piano), Costas Dafnis (ghostplate), and Katie Lynn Baker (soprano)

Compositions by: Costas Dafnis, Georgios Kasassoglou, Dinos Constantinides, and Ellie Falaris Ganelin

Recorded by: Ellie Falaris Ganelin, Kyle Bruckmann, Ariel Wang, Lewis Patzner, Joe Goodkin, Costas Dafnis, and Innovation Station Music

Mixed by: Costas Dafnis and 25th Street Recording

Mastered by: Myles Boisen, Headless Buddha Mastering

Album Cover Photo: Costas Dafnis