Center For New Music

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 at 7:30p, Concert Hall

A tribute to Dinos Constantinides (1921-2021)

curated by Nathan Carterette



Songs for Epirus, for flute and piano, LRC 264c (2014)

      I. Songs in the Old Manner
      II. The Dance
      III. Delphic Hymn
      IV. Fiesta

Rhapsody II for flute and piano, LRC 167a (1998)

Nicole Esposito, flute
Nathan Carterette, piano

Sonata for solo piano, LRC 49 (1979/revised 1999)

      I. Impressions
      II. Madness
      III. Dream
      IV. Resignation
Nathan Carterette, piano


Grecian Variations, LRC 106b (1987)

Christine Rutledge, viola
Nathan Carterette, piano

Reflections IX, LRC 276 (2015)

Ghadeer Abaido, piano

Diakos Suite for two pianos, LRC 98 (1995)

      I. Legend
      II. Memories
      III. Dance
      IV. Song
      V. Festivities
Ghadeer Abaido, Nathan Carterette, pianos

Composer Biography and Program Notes



Dinos Constantinides
circa 2000

Dinos Constantinides was born in 1921 in Ioanninna, Greece. He began his musical studies at the Athens Conservatory, continuing at Juilliard in 1957 and later received degrees from Indiana and Michigan State Universities. He began teaching at Louisiana State University in 1967, becoming Boyd Professor, the highest honor awarded to LSU professors, in 1986. There he founded the LSU New Music Festival as well as its Endowment, and the Louisiana Sinfonietta, a performing ensemble that served as a vehicle for new works of colleagues and students. Constantinides was a prolific composer of operatic, orchestral, chamber, and solo works, published by Magni Publications.
     Those rather dry facts describe a successful career, but don’t encompass the breadth of the artist and person whose music we are celebrating tonight. It is in the music that we encounter ‘the Maestro,’ as he was affectionately known in Baton Rouge. There in the music he gives free rein to a zest for life-giving rhythm, but also faraway dreams and memories, and at times, the dominating passions that can overwhelm reason.
     Much of the inspiration for the Maestro’s works came not only from Greek folk music, but Greek culture as a whole. His beautifully written Obituary notes, ‘Similar to the Inuit, who are thought to use up to 50 different words for “snow,” the ancient Greeks recognized many distinct forms of love.’ Those are detailed in the Obituary: storge, familial love or love for a people; meraki, the soulful love of a craft; eros, passionate love of desire; pragma, long-term intentional love; philia, the love of deep friendship; and agape, the love for all human kind (named as the greatest love by Paul).
     All these sentiments are woven into the music, and tonight the program attempts to show three sides of Constantinides the artist: the Greek emigré, translating folk tunes, dances, and modes into concert music; the experimentalist, using strict compositional systems to paradoxically unleash mad passion; and the domestic, an artist writing music whose only ambition is to express the immediate life around him.


     Songs for Epirus was composed in 2014, and its four ‘songs’ are based on poetry of Chrysanthi Zitsea. Epirus is a rugged region of Greece, and the Obituary states ‘When World War II came, Dinos and his family hid in the mountains of Epirus. The mountains, which inspired several of his pieces, helped to forge his indelible bond with his native country.’ This collection for flute and piano is concerned primarily with music of the dance, but the third movement, ‘Delphic Hymn,’ is a nod to an ancient Delphic shrine, Dodona, found in Epirus. The music contrasts a hypnotic rhythmic knocking on the piano (imitating the toubeleki, a folk percussion instrument) with a free, lyrical flute solo.
     Rhapsody II, by contrast, is an experimental work based on interactions of intervals, in this case the major seventh and perfect fourth. Even in these more conceptual works, Constantinides wanted to reference Greek culture, and described this piece as inspired by the Iliad. In spite of the abstract nature of the music, there are striking moments of rhythmic continuity and drive.
     The Sonata for solo piano is a large-scale work that encompasses a number of different styles. It is inspired by youthful passion, described by the composer as ‘the cycle of emotions experienced by a young person in their struggle for survival in a confused society.’ This confusion is perhaps represented by the tonality, which hovers somewhere between G and A minor, blurred by stacks of fourths, clusters smashed with the fist, and dissonant virtuosic gestures. Hints of Greek folk tunes emerge from time to time, never quite coalescing into full expression. All of the themes laid out in the first three movements are woven together in the final movement, where the contrast of introspection and fury is the most extreme.
     An interesting feature of Constantinides’ catalog is the re-purposing of older works for new instruments, a functional approach that was common in the Baroque era. The Grecian Variations is one such piece; the main body of it was originally written for solo piano, and in fact was his first published work. The version heard tonight gives the spotlight to the viola, and includes several new ingenious variations not in the piano version. I studied and played the original piano solo with the Maestro, who was reluctant to tell me the source of the Greek folk material.
     Reflections IX is an illustration of the domestic. Dedicated to the memory of the family cat, Tiger, it was also written for the Greek pianist Froso Ktistaki. Again a somewhat strict compositional plan, in this case a specific repeated-note theme and chromatically descending chords, is used to paint a more approachable picture. The first section suggests the more languorous mode of the cat, with perhaps a nail or tooth striking out occasionally. The middle of the piece becomes more unpredictable, as a cat might either dart away, and then lash out from their hiding-place. The third section, unfortunately, is the funeral for the cat. This is a very touching and personal piece that was also arranged for voice and piano, using William Blake’s poem ‘The Tyger’ as text:

Tyger Tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

The final piece on the program, Diakos Suite, is grounded completely in the folk music of Greece. The music was originally composed as incidental music for a play based on Athanassios Diakos, a historical person associated with Greece’s war for independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 1820’s. In its arrangement for two pianos the full texture of the Greek dance can finally be enjoyed. Folk instruments such as tabouras and zithers are also imitated, and the overall impression is one of joy and excitement.
---Nathan Carterette

Performer Biography

Nathan Carterette

     Hailed as "wonderfully poetic," (Westfalen Post) and “very compelling in his power and presence” (International Composer), Nathan Carterette has distinguished himself in the concert world by performing a huge range of works from Elizabethan keyboard music to music written today. His innovative programming has inspired audiences to approach unfamiliar music with open ears, and familiar music with new appreciation.
     In addition to the standard repertoire Nathan has worked intensively with many composers and multi-disciplinary artists, including Dinos Constantinides, Quentin Kim, Judith Shatin, Marcus Maroney; modern dance and ballet ensembles Attack Theatre and Verb Ballets; and collaborative concerts with Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum, an international residency program for writers in exile.
     Nathan studied at University of Missouri-Kansas City and Yale University, and privately in Munich with composer-pianist Dafydd Llywelyn. For more information, please visit







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