A hundred years since his birth and we still can’t get enough of Iannis Xenakis. Α statement that would sound cliché if we were talking about, let’s say, a pop idol but in Xenakis’ case we mean that quite literally since his pioneering and rule-breaking work sounds to this day as fresh as ever.
Architect, designer, performance director and experimental composer the polymath Xenakis became known worldwide for his wacky music arrangements inspired by mathematical sequences. Early on, he struggled to be taken seriously until he studied under Olivier Messiaen, who trusted in his vision. The Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) pays tribute to his work with two events.
The Ionian Festival Ensemble presents to us Meta-Xenakis, a reference to Xenakis’s first major orchestral composition Metastaseis. Equal in magnitude to John Cage’s infamously controversial 4,22, it too signalled a turn in what can be considered “music”. This is a performance that traces Xenakis’ influences, his predecessors, like his teacher Messiaen and those who followed in his steps, like Julio Estrada and Pascal Dusapin.
Next up in December is 100 years Since the Birth of Iannis Xenakis. The Athens State Orchestra, under maestro Nikos Vassiliou, will perform two symphonic works by the composer, along with Exotic Birds by Olivier Messiaen, and a work by the French avant-garde composer Edgard Varèse. And for those who want to dive deeper into his process, there will also be a speech on the relationship between Xenakis’ work and mathematics.