Aristeia (2004)

for viola, piano, bass clarinet, flute
By Douglas Boyce
American
The title of Aristeia is the classical Greek term for both a warrior’s puissance and the recounting of deeds which demonstrate that prowess. In the Homeric mode, the aristeia serves as an introduction or overture to the arrival of a new character; Book V of the Illiad (which is itself a kind of aristeia for Diomedes) is interrupted by the arrival of Glaucus, and the need for him to provide his own pedigree. Tonight’s work is in part a Homeric aristeia, but encompasses a more modern notion of character, and what contributes to a character’s totality. The first movement (literally, “a good man for shouting”) is the Homeric epithet most frequently associated with Diomedes, and describes his tremendous, rage-filled battle-cry. The second movement (roughly, “the ambassadors plea for help”) references a passage of the Aeneid in which the Latin tribes ask the displaced Greek hero for aid in their conflict with his old enemy, the Trojan Aeneas. In the third movement, (“the island of the screaming birds”) we hear the furious voices of Diomedes’ soldiers, transformed into birds by the ever-vengeful Aphrodite. The fourth movement (“the noises of the mob”) sees Diomedes again suffering from vengeful Aphrodite, as his wife’s divinely inspired indiscretions during the Trojan War force him from Argos in shame and sorrow. The fifth movement (“the robbers”) returns to the Homeric mode, describing the raid of Diomedes and Ulysses on the stables of Rhesus, the capture of the Trojan’s prized horses, and the systematic dispatching of 13 men by Diomedes.

Other works by Douglas Boyce:
“Music is the best means we have of digesting time. ”
--W. H. Auden