Flautist gives voice to forgotten nymph in new premiere

Gyori will present the UK premiere of a new flute concerto by composer Christian Mason which celebrates Thaleia, an often-overlooked character in Greek myth

Flautist Noemi Gyori will team up with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) next week to present the UK premiere of Thaleia, a new work by composer Christian Mason. Taking inspiration from Claude Debussy’s compositions inspired by Greek mythology, the new concerto celebrates the often-overlooked Naiad-nymph of Mount Etna.

Written for Gyori and marking an ‘important milestone’ for the flautist, the work uses complex melodies and instrumental interactions to symbolise the elemental powers of Thaleia and her children, the Sicilian gods of hot springs and geysers. It will be premiered on 21 June alongside works by Debussy and César Franck as part of a myth-inspired programme conducted by Gyori’s husband, conductor Gergely Madaras.

Gyori said: ‘Performing [Debussy’s myth-inspired works] for several decades, there was an ever growing, unstoppable desire in me to finally create a fresh and spacious platform for the voice of a nymph, through the sound of the flute. When I received an invitation and the possibility of commissioning a new concerto from Daniel Weissmann, I instantly knew to collaborate with Christian Mason on this grandiose, and to me, deeply meaningful venture. I have known Christian and his unique, powerful and atmospheric music for over a decade, but until now he hasn’t composed a concerto; an extra excitement, as I was sure that he would create an unparalleled, exceptional piece.’

Mason is a London-based composer with a range of experience working with organisations including Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, London Sinfonietta and Paris Philharmonie among others. He is a 2012 British Composer Award winner and 2015 Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung Composer Prize winner.

With the new large-scale flute concerto, Mason aims to transform traditions of the flute repertoire, creating platforms to celebrate the voice of female mythological characters. He said: ‘The idea of multiplicity born from unity and the fecundity of nature have been ongoing concerns in my work over many years, so the imaginative connection with Thaleia and her twins was immediate and felt natural to express.’

The concerto will premiere in the UK on June 21 in Cardiff and will be recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Classical Live and on BBC NOW’s Digital Concert Series.

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