From Marathon to Athens was inspired by the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger who ran approximately twenty-six miles between the cities of Marathon and Athens in ancient Greece to deliver an important wartime message. According to the legend, he died shortly after completing the journey. The marathon races of today were inspired by his story, though it may be more myth than reality. There is a great deal of inherent drama in the undertaking of such a feat, whether it be a marathon or any other test of strength and endurance. There is the rush of adrenaline when it begins, followed by the excitement and exhilaration of the first few miles. Then, there is a period of settling in and finding a groove - when the runner realizes that there is a long way to go, but is determined to pace him or herself and stay strong. All too often, there is the "wall" that appears about three-quarters of the way through, when it seems that there is no strength left to finish the race. Finally, there is the final push to the finish line - where the runner decides that they are going to make it, in spite of fatigue, pain, or any other obstacle. In this piece, I used a simple melody that was very loosely modeled after a melody from ancient Greece (the tune inscribed on the Epitaph of Seikilos). I used both Phrygian and Dorian modes, which, according to Plato, were most appropriate for soldiers. Throughout the piece, I used different instruments, mostly percussion, to represent the heartbeat of the runner. In the legend, the runner dies - in the piece, the heartbeat becomes very fast and then rather erratic. It then slows and, finally, stops. Though I find the story of Pheidippides inspiring, I wish all marathon runners and athletes of every kind (myself included) a safer and happier outcome!
- From Marathon to Athens: for orchestra