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Caryatids by Veronika KrausasOnce as a boy I asked someone if a statue I stared at Was alive. They said no, but they were wrong. It was.Excerpt from My Father “The T.E. Lawrence Poems” Gwendolyn MacEwan (1941-87)Caryatids for orchestra was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as the recipient of the 10th Annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers. Due to the pandemic the size of the orchestra was greatly reduced and was premiered with only 21 musicians. Subsequent performances will be with full orchestra, as the piece was originally envisioned.I’ve always been fascinated with rocks and stones and sculpture—their strength, their beauty, and their mystery and magic. In Detroit, there are twelve caryatids on the baroque Book Tower. A caryatid is a sculpted female figure that also serves as a column or a supportive architectural element. A traditional caryatid is holding the roof with her head or her arms. As support and sculpture, the caryatids’ function intersects both art and architecture. The name caryatid is derived from the Greek word, karyatides, referring to the maidens of Karyai. Karyai was an ancient Peloponnesian town with a temple devoted to Artemis Karyatis. In Greek mythology, Artemis was the goddess of wild animals, the hunt, vegetation, of chastity, childbirth, and a patron of girls and young women. To honor Artemis Peloponnesian women would often perform folk dances with baskets of plants on their heads. The piece follows the architecture of a building with eight sections representing the four corners and four walls. Architecturally the piece has four structural (or column) sections (I’ve called Fanfare, Midfares, and Postfare). They represent the strength and columnar nature of caryatids. Each of the twelve caryatids is represented by a chord. The series of chords finally appears in order at the end of the work but each chord is spread between the orchestral instruments, much like light at different times of the day is refracted and creates different shadows. Between these chordal (fanfare-like) sections, are a series of Baroque-like dances, or my interpretation of a bourrée, a gigue, and a sarabande. This work is dedicated to Elvyra Krausas.
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