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for SSSSAA choir and harp

Year:  2013

Year:  2013

Mark Smythe

Composer:   Mark Smythe

Films, Audio & Samples

Mark Smythe: Persephone; video

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In Greek mythology, Persephone was the goddess of the underworld, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Her beauty was coveted by Hades, god of the underworld. Legend has it that Persephone was gathering flowers on the plain of Enna when the earth suddenly opened and Hades rose up from the gap and abducted her. Demeter was so angry that she withdrew herself in loneliness, and the earth ceased to be fertile. Eventually Zeus demanded Persephone's release, but not before Hades slipped her a pomegranate as a parting gift. When she later ate it, she was bound to the underworld for a third of every year. When Persephone was with Hades, Demeter refused to let anything grow and winter began. This myth is a symbol of the budding and dying of nature. One translation of her name is 'she who destroys the light'.

This piece is a bit of a departure from previous works for Baroque Voices; more dissonant and nebulous in keeping with this tale of the seasons. The lyrics have direct links to songs by R.E.M. and Radiohead, who may make an appearance by way of encore arrangement.

Commissioned note

Commissioned with funding from Creative New Zealand.

Performance history

16 Nov 2013: Performed by Baroque Voices at Sacred Heart Cathedral, in Wellington