Talos Dreams

Talos Dreams

Composer Costas Dafnis creates a new musical work that explores the concept of made versus born. Inspired by the real and imagined automatons of ancient Greece, this multimedia piece features the ghostplate, a novel metallic instrument he 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 work’s namesake Talos was the mythical robot that guarded Crete against invaders. 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 is commissioned by the Greek Chamber Music Project with generous support from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Faculty Grant. It appears on the album Synchronos: New Greek Voices, set to be released on May 16, 2021. Learn more

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)

Virtual Performances

These virtual performances feature a mix of live performance and music videos produced especially for this format. They are free to attend and will be streamed on Zoom and YouTube. Run time: 30 minutes. Q&A with the artists to follow.

Sunday, April 25

11am Berkeley, California // 2pm New York // 7pm London // 9pm Athens
Sponsored by University of California, Berkeley Departments of Classics and Rhetoric

Sunday, May 16

11am San Francisco // 2pm Baltimore // 7pm London // 9pm Athens
Sponsored by Johns Hopkins University: History of Art, Alexander Grass Humanities Institute and Peabody Institute


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