Talos Dreams

Commissioned by GCMP, hybrid tone-poem Talos Dreams by Costas Dafnis explores the concept of made versus born. Natural and processed sounds come crashing together to conjure an image of Talos, the tale of the first robot. The 30-minute work for chamber ensemble highlights the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument that Dafnis built and designed with Bay Area improviser Tom Nunn. Its sonic palette — atmospheric, echoing, wispy, and metallic — sounds remarkably electronic for an acoustic instrument. The ghostplate creates a soundscape that is at once familiar and extraordinary.

Costas Dafnis playing the ghostplate

Talos Dreams takes its cues from Gods and Robots, a book by Stanford scholar Adrienne Mayor, revealing that the earliest concepts of automatons, robots and artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece — first in mythology, and later in self-moving devices and robots. The line between human and not human, born vs. built, is an AI concept that’s not only recent, but in fact thousands of years old.

Talos Dreams was written, recorded, mixed and virtually premiered during the pandemic in early 2021. The ensemble rehearsed over Zoom, shot music videos, and performed throughout the year for online music festivals and universities including UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University. Talos Dreams is featured on GCMP’s 2021 album release Synchronos: New Greek Voices, featuring contemporary chamber music by Greek composers.

This work is available for in-person and virtual performances. Contact Ellie Falaris Ganelin for future booking inquiries.

Personnel

Ellie Falaris Ganelin, flute
Kyle Bruckmann, oboe
Ariel Wang, violin
Lewis Patzner, cello
Costas Dafnis, ghostplate


So ethereal! I loved the “controlled chaos” unpredictability of the ghost plate—evoking the unexpected behavior of the “made-not born” automaton Talos. This science-fiction soundscape really embodies the mechanical artificial being Talos, that cyborgian quality of part machine-part human tension is captured by each of the musicians. [What a] terrific concert—beyond all expectations!

Adrienne Mayor (author of Gods and Robots)

The sonorities were prodigiously diverse, reflecting as broad an array of dispositions as one might encounter in an eighteenth-century string quartet.

Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

Press & Blog Posts

GCMP to Present Two World Premieres at SFCMThe Rehearsal Studio, Stephen Smoliar

Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities: Interpreting the Ancient World through Music • Society for Classical Studies blog, Nina Papathanasopoulou


Music & Myth: Tales of Ancient Robots

Sunday, August 28, 2022 at 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern
Old First Concerts • 1751 Sacramento St, San Francisco (map) and Online

The Greek Chamber Music Project presents an epic program of music inspired by Greek myth and culture. The cornerstone of the concert is Talos Dreams, a GCMP commission that explores the concept of made versus born. Natural and processed sounds come crashing together to conjure an image of Talos, the tale of the first robot. This multimedia work highlights the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument that the composer Costas Dafnis built and designed along with Bay Area improviser Tom Nunn. Its sonic palette — atmospheric, echoing, wispy, and metallic — sounds remarkably electronic for an acoustic instrument. The ghostplate creates a soundscape that is at once familiar and extraordinary.

Talos Dreams takes its cues from Gods and Robots, a book by Stanford scholar Adrienne Mayor, revealing that the earliest concepts of automatons, robots and artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece — first in mythology, and later in self-moving devices and robots. The line between human and not human, born vs. built, is an AI concept that’s not only recent, but in fact thousands of years old.

The concert will also include excerpts from Medea: Rebirth and Destruction, a collective work created by composition students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. At times sympathetic, lyrical, dark, and uplifting, Medea captures the narrative of the mythical sorceress who held the power to destroy and create.

The program also features a rare performance of Greek Dances by Thanos Ermilios, which cleverly weaves original folk melodies into the rich language of chamber music.

Personnel: Ellie Falaris Ganelin (flute), Kyle Bruckmann (oboe), Ariel Wang (violin), Lewis Patzner (cello) and Costas Dafnis (ghostplate & piano)


Past Performances

Glenview Classical Series Presents: Talos Dreams and More

An innovative concert of music inspired by Greek culture and mythos

Sunday, March 27, 2022 // St. Paul Lutheran Church, Oakland, CA

Commissioned by GCMP, Talos Dreams by Costas Dafnis explores the concept of made versus born. Natural and processed sounds come crashing together to conjure an image of Talos, the tale of the first robot. This multimedia work highlights the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument that Dafnis built and designed with Bay Area improviser Tom Nunn. Its sonic palette — atmospheric, echoing, wispy, and metallic — sounds remarkably electronic for an acoustic instrument. The ghostplate creates a soundscape that is at once familiar and extraordinary. Talos Dreams takes its cues from Gods and Robots, a book by Stanford scholar Adrienne Mayor, revealing that the earliest concepts of automatons, robots and artificial intelligence can be traced back to ancient Greece — first in mythology, and later in self-moving devices and robots. The line between human and not human, born vs. built, is an AI concept that’s not only recent, but in fact thousands of years old.

The concert will also included excerpts from Medea: Rebirth and Destruction composed by SF Conservatory students Nicole Jacobus and Nicole Rowe and a rare performance of Greek Dances by Thanos Ermilios. The program also featured original compositions and arrangements by the ensemble’s own Ellie Ganelin and Lewis Patzner.

Personnel: Ellie Falaris Ganelin (flute), Flora Espinoza (oboe), Ariel Wang (violin), Lewis Patzner (cello) and Costas Dafnis (ghostplate, piano & guitar)


Chamber Music for the Future • CD Release Concert

December 8, 2021 // The Bowes Center (San Francisco) and live streamed

The next generation of music makers look to ancient stories to create music for the future 

In collaboration with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Technology and Applied Composition Department, the Greek Chamber Music Project (GCMP) presented the in-person premiere of Talos Dreams and Medea: Rebirth and Destruction. This live-streamed event took place at the new state-of-the-art Bowes Center in San Francisco. 

Accompanying the performance were prerecorded video remarks by author of Gods and Robots, Adrienne Mayor, about the role of technology in ancient Greece. This concert celebrates the release of Synchronos: New Greek Voices on the GCMP label, which features Talos Dreams.

The performance also featured the premiere of Medea: Rebirth and Destruction. It serves as a companion piece to Talos Dreams, inspired by the powerful sorceress responsible for the fall of Talos. Medea held the power of life and death in her hands, enabling her to break free of traditional societal roles. Medea: Rebirth and Destruction is an original collection of works for chamber ensemble and electronics by San Francisco Conservatory of Music composition students.

This event was made possible in part by the Society for Classical Studies Ancient Worlds, Modern Communities Initiative.

Zoom Concerts

These virtual Zoom performances feature a mix of live performance and music videos produced especially for this format.  They include a 30-minute performance followed by a Q&A with the artists.

April 25, 2021

Sponsored by University of California, Berkeley Departments of Classics and Rhetoric

May 16, 2021

Sponsored by Johns Hopkins University: History of Art, Alexander Grass Humanities Institute and Peabody Institute