I had the pleasure and privlige of visiting Greece over the past few days, hosted by Dr Christine Tokatlian of Deree, the American College of Greece. While at Deree, I gave lectures and a recital which included the premier of a new musical work, Mona. Mona is a six movement composition for solo cello by Dimitris Mousouras. I also performed Resonance at the recital, and Dr Tokatlian and I played the Debussy Sonata for cello and piano. After the premier of Mona on Friday, October 20th, we recorded the music of Mona on Monday morning, October 23rd.
The music is challenging.
Mona requires the cello to be tuned differently: A, C#, G, B (top string to low string). This tuning allows the composer to take advantage of a host of wonderful harmonic possibilities, both tonally speaking, and technically to use harmonics on the scordatura strings. Because of the tuning, the score occasionally needs ‘unpacking’ as the notes look different to what the player expects.
The music requires the performer to do everything. Techniques range from microtonal incantations to creating tap-dancing sounds on the cello emulating the internal dance of the baby in the belly, to ‘babbling’. Yes, I speak in Greek baby-talk while playing. I go on to create sonic representations of all sorts of etherial, mental, and physical sounds and sensations and it is exhilerating! The music takes the performer and listener to the far reaches of mental and physical experience.
Mona encompasses a macrocosom of emotions and ideas across its 20 pages. The work encompasses how a person comes into being from nothingness. It details the beginnings of physical movement and first breaths of life. By the end of the work, Mona has become the playful, delighful, wonderful individual, who is Dimitris’ daughter.
I prepared the piece by asking the composer questions via email and zoom calls, and by sending him videos of my practising. We met for the first time in person on Thursday 19th October, and my host captured this extract from our first rehearsal of Babbling.
And here’s a little look into the recording space:
Dimitris has been a wonderful guide to my learning the work and the result has been incredibly rewarding. I look forward to growing with this repertoire and performing it to different audiences.
and YES we will share the recotding when it is available!