Breath and Pulse - Minas Borboudakis is awarded the Rodion Shchedrin Prize

Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 15, 2005

This is what is called a lucky guy: Last December Minas Borboudakis was awarded the 'Bayerischer Kunstförderpreis', now he receives the Rodion Shchedrin Chamber Music Award as well. This is the first time that this prize is awarded, after the composer Shchedrin and his wife Maya Plisetskaya set up a foundation five years ago which is devoted to documenting their life and work and to supporting the rising generation of ballet dancers and composers. […]

The ceremony in the Black Box of the Munich Gasteig was organised by the Richard Wagner Conservatoire where Borboudakis had once taken lessons with Wilfried Hiller. […] At the presentation of the prize, Rodion Shchedrin acknowledged his young fellow-composer as a great composer and great individual. Hiller congratulated him in verse form.

Rodion Shchedrin Prize 2005

dpa, 05. March 2005

The Greek composer Minas Borboudakis is the first winner of the newly created Rodion Shchedrin Chamber Music Award. […] Born on Crete in 1974 and living in Munich today, Borboudakis studied with Wilfried Hiller and Peter Michael Hamel among others and took master classes with Luciano Berio and Wolfgang Rihm. The Russian composer Shchedrin and his wife Plisetskaya, for many years prima ballerina at the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre, had set up the Foundation with the aim to annually support talented young artists in the fields of ballet dance and music.

1st Rodion Shchedrin Chamber Music Award to the composer Minas Borboudakis

The Richard Strauss Conservatoire, the Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin Foundation and SCHOTT Musik International herewith invite you to attend the award ceremony and the concert at the Black Box, Gasteig/Munich on Wednesday, 13 April 2005 at 8 pm.

For the first time, the International Maya Plisetskaya and Rodion Shchedrin Foundation is going public: The internationally renowned composer Rodion Shchedrin and his wife Maya Plisetskaya, who had been the prima ballerina of the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre for many years, set up this foundation in order to 'support, on an international level, talented young artists, interpreters, composers, dancers and authors in the fields of ballet dance and music'. This is why they have created the Rodion Shchedrin Chamber Music Award which will be formally presented to the young Greek composer Minas Borboudakis at a concert on 13 April 2005.

Rodion Shchedrin

Rodion Shchedrin, who was born in Moscow in 1932 and is now alternately living in his home town and Munich, is one of the most important Russian composers in succession to Dmitri Shostakovich. Minas Borboudakis, born on Crete in 1974 and living in Munich today, is about to become one of the most important members of the younger generation of Greek composers.

Minas Borboudakis studied in Munich and Hamburg with famous teachers such as Wilfried Hiller and Peter Michael Hamel. In addition, he took master classes with George Crumb, Luciano Berio and Wolfgang Rihm. As early as 1997, Rodion Shchedrin recognized the 'natural compositional talent' of Borboudakis. The prize will be awarded for his works '"å-Cassiopéia" ' for metal percussion solo and string orchestra, and for 'Chorochronos I' for two pianos and two percussionists. Together with 'Chorochronos II', they are already available on CD, performed by the virtuoso percussionist Peter Sadlo. Rodion Shchedrin explained his decision as follows: 'Both works are characterized by the organic connection between past and present traditions as well as by the combination of national and international elements. The composer remains contemporary, without breaking with the concept of beauty in music, with the rhythmic foundation of movement or with the elasticity of the thematic lines. Even the fresh talented transformation of Greek folklore deserves to be acknowledged.'

The works performed at the concert on 13 April 2005 will include several works by the attending composer Rodion Shchedrin and the prize-winner Minas Borboudakis as well as by the composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Iannis Xenakis who both, in their own way, had an influence on the award founder as well as on the prize-winner.

Further information is available at:



Background information on the works

Greek constellation on the percussion instrument

For metal percussion solo and string orchestra

The composer Minas Borboudakis was inspired by the constellation of Cassiopéia the shape of which resembles the Greek letter sigma. He says: 'The beauty and symmetry which are visible in this constellation made me use this tone system: Five stars became fives notes. Two fifths placed next to one another (C-G, G-D) form the symbol of the three stars on the right side of the constellation, and the notes F# and G# form the symbol of the stars on the left side. These two harmonic or melodic elements, combined with highly virtuoso rhythmic passages and extraordinary playing techniques (such as the bowed vibraphone or cymbal playing) constitute the sound material of this composition.'


Time and space in the form of sound
Chorochronos I

For 2 pianos and 2 percussionists

In 1997 Minas Borboudakis was inspired by Stephen Hawking's work 'A Brief History of Time', he was fascinated by the theme of the origin of the universe and the 'chorochronos' (spacetime). In the very same year he composed 'Chorochronos I', writing about it: 'Hawking's theory of a finite universe was decisive for the development of the musical form in the first movement. A so called bridge form (A/B/C/B/A) seemed to me as a musical parallel to the expansion and shrinkage of the universe.'

The percussionist Peter Sadlo said:
'Almost breathlessly I was able to see, hear, and travel in his sounds. (…) All musicians with whom I have studied and performed the works by Borboudakis up to now felt the same power and intensity.'

CD review in 'Neue Zeitschrift für Musik':
'One can, indeed, lose oneself in the music, set out on a journey through time and space. Spherical sounds, now soft, now eruptive, create associations. Minimal-like passages and rhythmic accentuations of the multi-faceted range of instruments exert a power of suggestion which is difficult to withstand.'

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