Overview

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Commissioned by the NZ International Festival of the Arts and the OrchestrUtopica of Portugal, with financial assistance from Creative New Zealand and the Hattori Foundation, Psyzygysm is a chamber concerto that premiered on March 14, 2002, in Wellington, New Zealand. The title, roughly meaning "conjunction," reflects the essence of the composition, which unites an eclectic ensemble in support of the mallet percussion soloist, Pedro Carneiro. Drawing inspiration from jazz and traditional music,  these influences are blended into a dynamic and exhilarating rush of sound. The piano, double bass, and drum kit form a tight rhythm section reminiscent of a jazz combo, while the winds and string quartet introduce wailing, Middle-Eastern-inspired melodies. The percussion quartet serves as both a musical and visual focal point, effectively intertwining all the elements of the composition into a cohesive whole. Under the baton of conductor Hamish McKeich, the premiere of "Psyzygysm" showcased the virtuosity of Pedro Carneiro alongside the striking performances of Strike, Stroma, and the orchestral ensemble.

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Psyzygysm

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Project Details

Psyzygysm

Concerto for Vibraphone and Chamber Orchestra

Commissioner: NZ International Festival of the Arts & the OrchestrUtopica, Portugal

Funding: Creative New Zealand and the Hattori Foundation

Instrumentation: Soloist: vibraphone/marimba + 1(pic).0.1(bcl).1(cbn) / 0.1.00 / 4.perc, drum set / hp / str (1.1.1.1.0) + upright bass

Premiered by Pedro Carneiro (perc), Strike Percussion, and Stroma with Hamish McKeich (cond), on March 14, 2002 in Wellington, New Zealand

Difficulty Level:
Virtuosic
Duration:
19:15
Type:
Original
Instrument Tags:
Marimba
Vibraphone
Flute
Clarinet
Bassoon
Trumpet
Mixed Percussion
Drum Set
Piano
Violin
Viola
Cello
Double Bass
Mallet Percussion
Winds
Brass
Percussion
Strings

Full Instrumentation

Solo Percussion: vibraphone & marimba

Flute (pic).

Clarinet/Bass Clarinet

Bassoon/Contrabassoon

Trumpet*

4 Percussion

  • Percussion I: marimba (shared with soloist), bass drum, tam-tam, splash cymbal, tiny snare drum, finger cymbal, cowbell
  • Percussion II: triangle, tubular bells, marimba (shared with soloist)
  • Percussion III: tubular bells, snare drum, tiny snare drum, mark tree, bass drum, marimba, triangle
  • Percussion IV: glockenspiel, 2 congas, marimba (shared with soloist), tubular bells, wind chimes egg shaker

Drumset

Upright Bass

Piano

Harp**

String Quartet

*Trumpet: also plays finger cymbal
**Harp: also plays bell tree

Review

The star of the evening was Pedro Carneiro, astonishing Portuguese marimbist, in John Psathas’ Psyzygysm, a tour de force from any point of view. It is genuine music, climaxes built from music rather than mere crescendos. The imaginative inclusion of Carolyn Mills’ harp was just one evidence that real musical impulses, materials and structure were in use; both its excitement and its quiet were in place. Psathas’ work alone would have done me: the audience applauded long and hard.

- THE EVENING POST, NEW ZEALAND, MARCH 2002