A 'love letter to peace'

Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014

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Wellington composer John Psathas is creating a $1 million mega symphony with a global ensemble of musicians in a commemorative performance across World War I battle sites.

The ambitious project has been jointly funded by a Lotteries Commission grant and Victoria University, and would link musicians from around the world, on multiple sites, playing original music as part of an "epic world symphony of musical commemoration" dedicated to all those affected during the Great War, Psathas said.

He will follow in the footsteps of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, journeying to Britain, France, Turkey and Belgium to film and record the musicians playing the new work.

Locations across Europe and North Africa will be scouted as potential spots to record musicians in the field.

"When a Turkish musician collaborates with a New Zealand or Australian counterpart, when a Russian musician performs with a German or a Briton with an Austrian, they are bearing witness - often unawares - that we who once fought are no longer enemies," he said.

Players will be filmed in locations specific to war commemorations and the recordings will be edited, synced and combined with archival imagery and footage, then woven together visually and sonically with musicians playing live on stage.

Psathas described the work, to debut in 2016, as a "love letter to peace".



Ioannis (John) Psathas, ONZM, was born in Wellington in 1966 to parents who had emigrated from Greece. He grew up in Taumarunui and went to Napier Boys' High School, where his passion for music began.

The Victoria University School of Music professor of composition is one of New Zealand's most acclaimed composers and wrote much of the fanfares for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics. His works have been played by some of the world's great orchestras. His sound has been described as fusing classical music with the energy of rock and the improvisation of jazz.

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- The Dominion Post

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