Profile:Constantine Caravassilis

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Hailed as "a profound individual with beyond the ordinary sense of musicality" (A. General, Royal Conservatory of Music) and as “the most important Hellenic-descent composer of his generation” (Jazz & Tzaz), the young Greek-Canadian Constantine Caravassilis has been under the spell of composition since early childhood and is today considered as one of the most prolific composers of his generation.

Born into a musical family in Toronto, Canada, he grew up in the culturally vibrant township of Pythagorion, Samos Island, Greece and received his first violin lesson at the age of six. During his young teens, he participated in numerous musical events in the island. He was founder and director of the chorus and traditional orchestra of the Multi-Branch Lyceum of Samos City and wrote his first theatre score at age sixteen for a staging of Federico Garcia Lorca‘s Blood Wedding.

He is laureate of the 4th International Composition Competition of the city of Volos, (supported by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Trinity College, London) with three gold medals in composition and prizewinner at the annual Mississauga Symphony Orchestra Young Composer ‘s Competition (2004). His piece “Apanthroposis” for solo flute and tape written for young flutist Luke Nickel, received the first prize in the Canadian Composers Category, at the 2006 Syrinx Flute Festival in Canada.

Constantine has received numerous commissions from soloists, ensembles and organizations the world around. He writes for all media and his output includes seven concerti, with a plethora of chamber, orchestral, vocal and electroacoustic works. His music has been performed in several well-known music centers, such as the Alte Oper Frankfurt, (Germany), The Smolensk Philharmonic Hall (Russia), Rundetarn – Copenhagen (Denmark), La Chappelle de Bon Pasteur in Montreal, the Markham Theatre for the Performing Arts, (Canada), Jordan Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (U.S.) and New Theatre, in Cardiff (Wales). Selected compositions and arrangements have been recorded by Marquis (EMI Canada) and CBC and have been broadcasted by WGBH Radio in the U.S., CBC Radio in Canada, BBC-3 in the U.K, and TDK radio in Japan.

In 2005, Constantine was composer-in-residence with the Contemporary Opera Lab, at the University of Manitoba. His 40-minute chamber Opera DiCE, was premiered in August 2005 in Winnipeg, conducted by Dairine Ni Mheadhra, receiving rave reviews. Within the same year, Constantine was introduced to the Paris-based Quatuor Caravassilis, with which he launched a fruitful collaboration starting with a commission of his String Quartet No. 1 (Of the Youth). The piece was premiered at a gala concert in Paris and inspired choreographer Petra Steinert, who presented it in Winnipeg’s Fringe Festival in collaboration with the Young Lungs Dance Exchange. During the next several seasons, the Caravassilis String Quartet and Constantine will work together in a series of projects, which include performances and recordings of several works especially composed for the stunningly talented young quartet and several invited distinguished performers.

In the summer of 2006, Constantine was invited to be composer-in-residence with Open Strings 2006 in Lolland Island, Denmark. The residency concluded with the world premiere of his Concerto for Synaesthetes, for three solo celli and cello orchestra, in Copenhagen. Mats Lindstrom, Jakob Kullberg and Johan Theorin were the soloists, with Bjorn Bantock conducting the Open Strings Cello Ensemble. The same year saw the creation of “Baroque Revisited-Trancedental Suite in Six Movements”, incidental music accompanying a visual presentation of J. S. Bach‘s Goldberg Variations, for a 50-State tour of the work by internationally acclaimed American pianist Ronald Hawkins.

Future engagements include a tour of Eastern Europe with the Caravassilis String Quartet and raising opera star Ariana Chris in an all-Caravassilis recital program, the world premiere of Constantine’s Second Piano Concerto “Hommage to Shostakovitch”, the European premiere of Rhapsodies no. 2 & 3, a residency with the London Contemporary Song Festival in Britain, and concerts featuring Constantine‘s music in Paris, Tokyo, Darmstadt, in Eastern Europe, as well as in major venues across Canada and the United States.

While attending the Royal Conservatory of Music, York University’s Music Department and the music faculties of the University of Toronto and the University of Manitoba, Constantine has appeared before audiences both as a pianist and conductor, in frequent premieres and recording sessions of his own work and that of his colleagues, while attending lessons and masterclasses by many internationally acclaimed artists. His most influential teachers in composition are the eminent Canadian Composers Christos Hatzis (University of Toronto) and Michael Matthews (University of Manitoba). He has also studied conducting under Raffi Armenian and piano performance with the living legend and champion of contemporary classical music Christina Petrowska - Quilico. A member of S.O.C.A.N. and B.M.I., Constantine has received orchestral readings by the Winnipeg and the Mississauga Symphony Orchestras and performances by the University of Toronto and the University of Manitoba student Symphonies.