Christos Hatzis

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Born in Greece, educated in the United States and a Canadian citizen since 1985, award winning composer Christos Hatzis is “one of the most important composers in Canada” (International Musician) and is recently enjoying international recognition for his work. He is the recipient of the 1998 Jean A. Chalmers National Music Award for his composition Nunavut, the 1996 (Governor General) Jules Legér Prize for Erotikos Logos, the 1996 Prix Italia Special Prize for Footprints in New Snow (it was the first time this prestigious broadcasting award went to a Canadian composer), the 1998 Prix Bohemia Special Prize for the same work and the 2002 New Pioneer Award. He has composed major works for all media and is the recipient of numerous commissions from some of the best-known artists in Canada and abroad. Christos’ works are “brilliant, complex, and intellectually and emotionally challenging but [they] touch the heart of the average listener” (Paul Pedersen). His music has been featured in many international festivals, is being broadcast regularly by CBC and foreign networks and is frequently performed worldwide. Compact disc recordings of his works are available on the Sony Classical, Naxos, Marquis, CBC and Centrediscs labels in Canada, Cherry Red Records in the United Kingdom and Consipio in Japan with an upcoming release of his string quartets on EMI Classical. In addition to composing, Christos teaches composition full-time as an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto.

In addition to composing and teaching, Christos writes about music and particularly about the role of contemporary classical music within our present and future societies. His essays have been published by Harmony (Symphony Orchestra Institute), Organized Sound, Micropolyphonie and Interface. His essay “Performance versus Ritual: the Future of Concert Music” was translated into German by members of the Berlin Philharmonic for distribution among the non-English speaking members of the orchestra. Many of Christos’ writings are posted on the web (Cf. under Writings). Recently, his essay “Towards a New Musical Paradigm” was rated No. 10 out of 50 selected key resource documents on music by the web site Links to Go, which evaluates millions of pages on the web for content according to discipline.

Christos' compositional language has undergone several radical changes over the years: His early experimentations with graphic notation were abandoned in the late seventies for the sake of applying principles of fractal geometry to music (Aztlan, Cain, Erevos, The Law of One, Prisma, The Birth of Venus, Of Threads and Labyrinths) and developing pervasive systems of musical structure wherein the intervalic relations from within a single sound are transferred to the realms of harmony, rhythm and form. Since the early eighties, he has stylistically gravitated towards eclecticism, eventually developing his own unique post-modern aesthetic influenced by the music of the third world (The Temptation of St. Anthony, Nadir, Orbiting Garden, Crucifix, Pavillons En l' Air, Byzantium, Pyrrichean Dances), jazz and pop music (On Cerebral Dominance, The Birth of Venus), the music of J. S. Bach (Equivoque, Mortiferum Fel, Stylus, The Gouldberg Variations, Concerto for Flute and Chamber Orchestra, Farewell to Bach) and of other Baroque composers (Burial Ground). His most recent music is influenced by religious and/or spiritual themes and New Age ideas (Heirmos, Tetragrammaton, Confessional, Kyrie, De Angelis, Everlasting Light, Constantinople), and by the culture of the Inuit, the inhabitants of Arctic Canada (String Quartet No. 1, Hunter's Dream, Footprints in New Snow, Fertility Rites, Viderunt Omnes, Arctic Dreams.)

Christos was born in Volos, Greece on March 21, 1953. He received his early music training at the local branch of the Hellenic Conservatory and later at the Eastman School of Music and SUNY at Buffalo, from which school he received his Ph.D. in 1982. He emigrated to Canada in 1982 and became a Canadian citizen in 1985. He has lived in Toronto ever since and has been active as a free-lance composer and a teacher after a rather long stint as a nightclub musician. He was married to Rania Hatzis from 1984 to 1993. His stepson George Chaker was born in April 1974, had a brief acting career as a teenager with the popular television series Degrassi High playing the role of Nick, a nasty character unlike anything that George is in real life, and is now a personal trainer and co-owner of an exercise club in Toronto.  His daughter Maria was born in June 1990 and is very interested in gymnastics and all sorts of sports and outdoor activities. Christos is now married to percussionist Beverley Johnston and they live together at their rural home outside of Uxbridge, Ontario.

bio is from Mr. Hatzis' own website (Photo: Sharon Murray)

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Bach and Hatzis Stylus is the third piece in an ongoing series of compositions based on Johann Sebastian Bach's The Art of the Fugue. It is a palimpsest on Contrapunctus VII. As the title suggests, my only means of acting upon the Bach original was the compositional equivalent of the effect of a skipping phonograph stylus. I was intrigued by the possibility of changing the semantic continuity of Bach's music by means of strategically-placed asymmetrical repetitions. By using (1) repetitions within repetitions, (2) phasing repetitions (the left or right bracket advances or retreats by a sixteenth-note after each iteration) and (3) by occasionally choosing similar beginning and end points which result in continuous melodic and contrapuntal flow within a loop, I sought to create a composition which parallels that of Bach, but has, never-the-less, a character and style of its own. With regards to instrumentation, Stylus was originally composed for tenor recorder, viola and accordion for recordist Peter Hannan, violist Douglas Perry and accordionist Joseph Petric. A subsequent version for string quartet also exists. To date neither version has been performed in public.

Stylus also exists in the following instrumentation

 -for recorder (or any of the following: violin, flute, oboe, clarinet), viola and accordion. 1990. Commissioned by Peter Hannan, Douglas Perry and Joseph Petric with a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. 7 minutes. Score and parts available through the composer.

 -for string quartet. 1990. 7 minutes. Score and parts available through the composer

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