Composed to celebrate the French bicentennial, Okho is scored for three performers on djembe and bass drum and was premiered at the Paris Autumn Festival on October 20, 1989. Xenakis first encountered the West African djembe in the studio of trio le cercle, to whom the work is dedicated. Okho finds a rare balance between the visceral and cerebral, creating a kind of tribal modernism. The work is in eight sections featuring extremely limited rhythmic material recombined in solos, duos and trios.


Iannis Xenakis FR

Iannis Xenakis was born on May 29, 1922 in Braïla, Romania. He studied composition at Gravesano with Hermann Scherchen, and at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen. Xenakis was an innovator of the mass concept of music:  stochastic and symbolic music through introduction of probability calculus and set theory into instrumental, electro-acoustic and computerized musical composition; he was also an inventor of several compositional techniques constituting the “lingua franca” of the avantgarde.  He was also an architect; his work included the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels World Fair in 1958, the Couvent de la Tourette (1955); as well as sonic, sculptural and light compositions: Polytope for the French Pavilion at Expo '67 in Montreal; the music and light spectacle Persepolis set among the ruins and the mountains at Persepolis, Iran (1971); Polytope de Cluny, Paris (1972); Polytope de Mycènes, set in the ruins of Mycenae, Greece (1978); and Diatope for the inauguration of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1978).  He was the founder of the Center for Studies of Mathematical and Automated Music (CEMAMu) in Paris, an Associate Music Professor at Indiana University in Bloomington (1967-1972) and founder of the Center for Mathematical and Automated Music (CMAM), also at Indiana University.  He held a research position at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris (1970); was Gresham Professor of Music at City University London (1975); and Professor at the University of Paris ISorbonne (1972-1989). Iannis Xenakis died on February 4, 2001, in Paris.

Iannis Xenakis