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PROMETHEAN EDITIONS

John Psathas

Waiting for the Aeroplane

Piano


John Psathas

Waiting for the Aeroplane

Piano

PROMETHEAN EDITIONS

WELLINGTON

PE048 – 1


Waiting for the Aeroplane (PE048), for Piano by John Psathas

(1988/90).

© Ioannis Psathas 1988/90

Published exclusively by Promethean Editions Limited

First published in Firestarters 2: 7 New Recital Pieces for Piano

© 2005 Promethean Editions Limited

This edition © 2018 Promethean Editions Limited

Series Editor: Ross Hendy

Editor: Thomas Liggett

ISBN: 978-1-877218-48-4 (print)

ISBN: 978-1-77660-048-9 (ebook)

ISMN: 979-0-67452-278-6

Promethean Editions Limited

PO Box 10-143

Wellington

NEW ZEALAND

http://www.prometheaneditions.com

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by

any means without permission in writing from the Publisher.

PE048 – 2


John Psathas (1966)

John Psathas is one of New Zealand’s most frequently performed composers and has been

described by fellow composer Christos Hatzis as one of the three most important living

composers of the Greek Diaspora. Psathas’ output has spanned high-energy chamber and

orchestral works, film scores and multi-disciplinary works, with strong focus on large-scale

collaborative projects in recent years.

Psathas grew up in Taumaranui and then Napier, and left high school early to study

composition and piano at Victoria University of Wellington. He then undertook further

studies with composer Jacqueline Fontyn in Belgium before returning to New Zealand. Early

success came in 1991 with Matre’s Dance, a maximum-energy duet for percussion and piano

that has since made Psathas’ name internationally known through having been taken up and

championed by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.

International acclaim continued to accumulate for Psathas following the August 2000

premiere of his saxophone concerto Omnifenix by legendary jazz saxophonist Michael

Brecker. The growing popularity of his Drum Dances for drum kit and piano established

Psathas as an exceptional writer for percussion. Psathas also came to embrace writing for

large forces; evidenced by the much heralded View From Olympus, a double concerto for

percussion, piano and orchestra. Since its premiere, View From Olympus has gone on to be

performed by many orchestras around the world. His piano concerto Three Psalms followed

in 2004. In 2008 Chamber Music New Zealand commissioned Psathas to write a string quartet,

A Cool Wind, for the Takács Quartet. All the while, Psathas continued to write formidable

and exciting works for percussion, evidenced by Djinn, a concerto for solo marimba and

chamber orchestra, and One Study One Summary for marimba, junk percussion and digital

audio, which has become a popular standard among the repertoire of modern works for solo

percussion and reflects a period in which Psathas explored the world of electronica.

PE048 – 3


Psathas has always embraced writing for large ensembles, and this has intensified since the

turn of the century. He was selected to score much of the opening ceremony of the Athens

2004 Olympic Games, which led to a proliferation of large-scale projects, collaborating with

artists from dozens of musical traditions. Much of his work since 2010 has overt social and

historical commentary at its core. Psathas handled the orchestral arrangements for the Elect

the Dead Symphony, featuring Armenian-American rock musician Serj Tankian. The album

reached No.2 on the Billboard Classical Album Chart. Psathas wrote the original score for

the feature film White Lies, described as a depiction of the head-on clash of beliefs and the

nature of identity in early New Zealand European settler society. Between Zero and One is

inspired by ancient and modern rhythms, and brings musicians from around the world into

the concert space via interactive projection, transforming and challenging the traditional

experience of fixed-location, temporally-contained performance. Psathas collaborated with

Tankian once again for the song 100 Years, which is featured in the soundtrack to the film

1915, an unflinching exploration and remembrance of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Most

recently, Psathas co-produced and wrote music for the epic experimental film project No

Man’s Land—a project conceived to overtly challenge the accepted handling of World War I

commemorations—and involved filming and integrating 150 musicians from more than 25

different countries, including Oum El Ghait (Morocco), Meeta Pandit (India), Bijan Chemirani

(Iran/France), Marta Sebestyen (Hungary), Vagelis Karipis (Greece), Refugees of Rap (Syria),

and Derya Turkan and Saddredin Ozcimi (Turkey).

Psathas has received an array of awards and honours, including twice winning the SOUNZ

Contemporary APRA Silver Scroll Award (2002 and 2004) for individual works and being

awarded three Classical Album of the Year awards (2000, 2004 and 2007) in the NZ Music

Awards. In 2003 he was made a New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate and in 2005 was

appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM). He teaches composition

at the New Zealand School of Music (Victoria University of Wellington), receiving the title

of Professor in Composition in 2011. In 2014, Victoria University of Wellington conferred

Psathas the degree of Doctor of Music (DMus), a higher doctorate in recognition for the

immense body of work he has contributed to his field.

Latest information about the composer may be found at www.johnpsathas.com.

PE048 – 4


Waiting for the Aeroplane (1988/90)

Waiting for the Aeroplane is Psathas’ response to the emotional experience of contemporary

air travel: long periods spent passing the time in a kind of awkward limbo, concluded by

abrupt partings with loved ones. The alternating two-note ostinato which opens the work,

and remains present throughout, evokes the sense of anticipation, while the interjections

of melodic fragments above this ostinato are like the fleeting, distracted thoughts and

conversations occupying the individual obliged to wait at the behest of influences outside

his or her control. Intense jazz-influenced flourishes bring a brief rush of energy, seemingly

signifying the arrival of a long-awaited, yet rushed, departure.

The composer writes:

Waiting for the Aeroplane captures a time when I was travelling to Greece to visit my

family, who had recently returned there from New Zealand to live. The emotion of

farewells, the sense of the distance between the two countries and the power of aircraft,

and the frenetic activity of airports all found their way into the piece.

Waiting for the Aeroplane received its premiere performance from Dan Poynton at the Adam

Concert Room, Wellington, New Zealand, in June 1988.

Performance notes

The alternating two-note ostinato which is present throughout most of the piece

should be executed with precision but be perceptible as no more than an unobtrusive

background ‘buzz’, until it combines with foreground elements at the climax of mm.54-

64.

The pedal should be used throughout each full phrase to create the sense of a single

uninterrupted expression of emotion.

PE048 – 5


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Waiting for the Aeroplane © 1988/90 Ioannis Psathas

First published 2005 in Firestarters 2 (PE069)

This edition © 2018 Promethean Editions Ltd PE048 – 6

ISMN 979-0-67452-278-6



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PE048 – 12


PE048 – 13


PROMETHEAN EDITIONS

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