Aristea Mellos is an Australian composer of contemporary classical music and the co-founder of The Ritsos Project. Born on the island of Crete, Mellos received her formative musical training in Sydney, where she was an avid chorister, and also studied classical piano. After initial studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Mellos continued her composition studies in the United States, at The Eastman School of Music, where she is currently a doctoral candiate. Mellos is recipient of grants from the Presser Foundation (2015), the Australia Council of the Arts (2014), and the American Australian Association (2013, 2014). In 2014 Mellos’s art-song, Wonder was a prize winner of the ABC Classic FM Gallipoli Song Competition. Mellos’s music has been published by the Capliano Review, and been broadcast on ABC Classic FM and the Australian Fine Music Station, 2MBS FM. Mellos’s compositions have been performed throughout the world in countries such as the United States, the United Kigdom, Australia, Greece, Croatia, and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Mellos holds degrees from both the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and The Eastman School of Music.
Penelope Hymns I & II, for Soprano and Sinfonietta.
Penelope Hymns is a reimagining of two songs from ‘Songs for a Day: Three Poems of Yannis Ritsos’. The songs, originally composed for soprano and small ensemble (flute, violoncello, and piano), are arranged here for sinfonietta orchestra. This version of the work explores the second and third songs from the original triptych: ‘Morning’, and ‘Afternoon’. Below are the program notes from the original chamber-ensemble score:
“In selecting these poems, I was interested in exploring Ritsos’s portrayal of women. In this set of three poems, Ritsos draws from the narrative voice of a female protagonist to explore the isolation of women in traditional Greek society, and to emerge us into intimate domestic scenes in which ordinary objects become agents for transformation and transfiguration. In Songs for a Day we undergo a full day’s journey from the perspective of one such woman. ‘Suddenly’ sets a nocturnal scene, casting our protagonist as a Penelope figure who awaits her absent lover surrounded by the sounds of the evening air. In ‘Morning’, a domestic routine provides the backdrop for the protagonist’s urge for escape. Whilst in ‘Afternoon’, our protagonist achieves a sense of freedom by a mysterious suspension – much like the fabled levitation of saints, our protagonist defies the laws of physics, and in doing so, emancipates herself from the shackles of the world below.
Featured in Playlist 7: Eclectic Waves, (31/7/2015)
Suddenly from ‘Three Poems of Yannis Ritsos’ for soprano, flute and piano.
Featured in the playlist: Small Ensemble Waves (1/3/2016)