Cyprus Ensemble of Ancient Greek Musical Instruments
The creation of the “Terpandros” ensemble of ancient Greek musical instruments was the result of the personal research conducted by Michalis Georgiou, musician, researcher and instrument maker. His research has reached an advanced stage, which allowed the creation of “Terpandros” ensemble and the attempt to revive and promote ancient Greek music.
Ancient Greeks divided music into “esoteric”, the music of the gods, which was intelligible only to a closed circle of initiates, and “exoteric”, which was the music of men. Exoteric music was used as a means of entertaining and delighting the soul and also as a means of communication with the divine. This music of men included folk music, artistic music, and music that was designed for public, religious and other ceremonies. In contrast, the musical forms of esoterism were determined by the relationship of man with the harmony of the universe. Using various materials, they made musical instruments whose sound moved out of the physical plane and passed into the spectrum of esoterism. The sound of these instruments could bring harmony to the mind and body of man. Asclepius used this music for therapeutic purposes and for putting his patients to sleep before operations. Pythagoras set free the mind of his students from the cares of daily life by playing them music that calmed the mind and induced deep sleep. The mythical Orpheus, the son of Apollo, tamed the wild creatures of the forest and moved the gods solely by the power of the sound of his lyre.
Through the philosophy of esoterism, music helps us to overcome the anxiety we feel in a world that is often hostile. It lifts our spirits and confirms the existence of harmony in the universe.
The research of Michalis Georgiou into the reconstruction of ancient Greek instruments is based on the philosophy of esoterism. These instruments are not simply producers of sound. The first visual contact with them may well create the impression of primitiveness. But the molecular structure of the natural materials from which they are made conceals within itself the singularity of the harmony of sounds they produce. This subject was a challenge, given that for 2500 years these instruments had not been reconstructed. This endeavour of Mr. Georgiou has been accompanied by extensive research for the collection, classification and comparison of as much information as possible (representations on vases, bas-reliefs, fossils, as well as references in the writings of ancient authors).
In his capacity as a music teacher, he has created a large orchestra with these instruments, initially played by pupils. The first world performance of this orchestra was given in March 2000 and was repeated at the request of the public. The orchestra went on to accompany Euripides’ tragedy “Iphigenia in Aulis” at two performances by the drama society of Palouriotissa Lyceum on the occasion of its fortieth anniversary. The performances took place towards the end of June, one at “Skali” open air theatre and one at the ancient theatre of Curium. After these concerts the orchestra was invited by the Ministry of Education of Greece to give two performances at the Panhellenic Arts Competition of Secondary Schools, which is organised every year. The first performance was given at Delphi during the ceremony of lighting the cultural flame, and the second on the Pnyx on the arrival of the flame at the Acropolis. The orchestra was subsequently awarded a Panhellenic gold award.
In August 2000, Mr. Georgiou was invited to present the results of his work at the Terpandros World Musicological Conference, which was held at Eresos, Mitylene. After his paper, and the publicity given by the mass media to the orchestra, many researchers, university professors, institutions and musicians showed interest and sought collaboration. Among these, was the composer Vangelis Papathanassiou, who asked Mr. Georgiou to make seventeen instruments for him.
All this activity necessitated the creation of Terpandros, (named after the great musician of antiquity), which was founded officially in November of 2000. It is a non-profit making institution with specific aims, namely the reconstruction of ancient Greek musical instruments, the study, revival and visibility of ancient Greek music, and finally the research on subjects that are related to Greek civilisation.