In 2011-2012, Basil Athanasiadis lived in Kushiro City in Hokkaido, and visited Lake Akan (Akan-ko), famous for its hot springs and natural beauty, being part of the Akan National Park and home to the rare spherical algae marimo. In December 2012, he heard of the death of the composer Jonathan Harvey, just two years after Harvey was featured as a “themed” composer at Suntory Hall as part of Tokyo’s International Programme for Music Composition in August 2010. Athanasiadis recalls that his two visits to Lake Akan, and his last memory of Jonathan Harvey, followed him to Tokyo, where he moved after his year in Kushiro City; he composed Aura in his small studio apartment, looking beyond the nearby small shrine land “imagining the open sky and calm surface of the water” lightly creased by the cool evening breeze. Aura is dedicated to the memory of Jonathan Harvey. It was recorded for Athanasiadis’ latest CD Silhouette for Sargasso by shō virtuoso Naomi Sato and percussionist Takafumi Fujimoto. Silhouette also features a live performance recording of Ithaka (2006), composed for and played by Okeanos Ensemble.

Basil Athanasiadis GR

Basil Athanasiadis, after completing his piano and advanced theory studies (harmony, counterpoint, fugue) at the National Conservatoire of Athens moved to London. He studied composition at the Trinity College of Music with Daryl Runswick, the Royal Academy of Music with Paul Patterson and finally at the Canterbury Christ Church University where he obtained his PhD under the supervision of Roderick Watkins and Paul Patterson supported by the Research Studentship Award.

In 2010 became the recipient of the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (2010-2011). Based at the Tokyo University of the Arts as a Special Foreign Researcher, he composed new works for Western and Japanese instruments with a particular interest on the shō (mouth organ) and the 20-stringed koto. Some of those works were presented in a series of concerts culminating to a large-scale performance project that took place at the Sogakudo Hall in 23 January 2011. The same year he was awarded the JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship Award (2011-2013) for the second time to further his research and support the composition of new works for Japanese and Western instruments and their performance in both Japan and Europe.

Athanasiadis’ works are characterised by a strong visual identity; his performances has often been accompanied by dance or stage action. Early influences can be traced in Sergiu Celibidache’s views on aspects of ambience and acoustic space (Athanasiadis attended Celibidache’s Munich seminars in 1994), and in composers such as Christou, Feldman and Takemitsu. His most recent works focus on the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which has also been the main subject of his doctoral and postdoctoral research since 2004.

His music has been released on CD by Sargasso Records, Dutton Epoch, Regent Records, Fonorum and the Choir & Organ Magazine (cover CD for March/April 2009 issue). His scores are published by United Music Publishers and Oxford University Press

Basil’s works have been performed in Europe, US, Canada and Asia by ensembles such as the London Sinfonietta, Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, New London Chamber Ensemble, Silk String Quartet, Okeanos, Mondriaan Quartet, Alea III, Shonorities and choirs such as the BBC Singers, Wells Cathedral Choir, Cambridge Chapel Choir of Selwyn College and Montreal Christ Church Cathedral Choir.

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Basil Athanasiadis