Corybas (piano, saxophone, cello)

for Saxophone, Piano and Cello


Arranged here for Saxophone, Cello, and Piano, Corybas, a dynamic, willful, and playful paino trio was commissioned by Ian Graham as a birthday gift for his wife Agi Lehar-Graham, and in grateful recognition of the New Zealand Chamber Soloists (NZCS) Piano Trio – Katherine Austin, Lara Hall and James Tennant. It's in stark contrast to the calmer, more serene, Aegean its companion work which can be thought of as its postlude. As a composer, it was an intriguing situation to consider the influence of the work being a gift. So, I reached out to Ian for a reference point and discovered Aggie's interest in the Corybas flower. The name originates from the helmet-shaped flowers, resembling the headgear worn by the dancers of Corybas in Ancient Greece. The lively odd-metered rhythmic patterns in Corybas echo the vibrant movements of the dancers in Eastern European traditions, capturing their spirit and energy An exciting aspect of writing Corybas was getting my head around a particular dance groove found in Macedonia, which is in 17/8 time but divided into measures of 7/8, 6/8, and 4/8. It’s a fantastic groove but it takes some work to internalise it. I had to play with this groove in a way that would keep performers from going crazy because of the amount of variation and syncopation on top the 17/8 meter, otherwise the material would be stressful and unsatisfying to play instead of exciting. I’m very happy about Corybas because I think I got the balance right in this respect. Once performers internalise the underlying meter I see a transformation take place and they love to play it. Later on I found out the name of Ian and Aggies boat was called Corybas, so there is some kind of connection

Key Details:

Instrumentation: Piano, Saxophone, Cello

Piano, Saxophone, Cello

Soprano Saxophone

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Composer Connections: John Psathas on Corybas
Interview "Corybas" John Psathas
JOHN PSATHAS discusses Corybas and Aegean

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