Music Films & Concerts:

Vangelis: Mythodea (Music for the NASA Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey)


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The NASA 2001 Mars Odyssey Mission has an ambitious and somewhat romantic goal: to transport an orbital satellite to Mars that will revolve around the planet and systematically map the planetary surface. NASA scientists will use the data collected to chart the unseen record of water that once lingered on Mars' surface in the hope of finding clues to the possibilities of life on the Red Planet (past or present). The Mars Odyssey orbiter was launched on 7 April 2001 on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and reached Mars on 24 October 2001. The science mapping mission began in February 2002 and will continue through August 2004 (over a full Martian year). The spacecraft will also serve as a communications relay for U.S. and international spacecraft scheduled to arrive at Mars in 2003 and 2004. Famous electronic music and film composer Vangelis (full name Evangelos Papathanassiou) decided to celebrate the mission by combining his life-long fascination with mythology, science and space exploration to create an ambitious "choral symphony" entitled "Mythodea: Music for NASA's Mars Odyssey mission" - a combination of the words "myth" and "ode." The composition links the present day "adventure" of the Mars Odyssey Mission to the myths and legends of Ancient Greece, in particular Homer's Odyssey. This is a monumental composition, featuring Vangelis' electronic instruments combined with a full orchestra and chorus as well as containing significant parts for two sopranos. In terms of compositional style, it links in his early arrangements of Greek folk songs (Odes and Rapsodies) with his "symphonic" compositions such as Mask and Soil Festivities together with his recent experience writing for a soprano (Montserrat Caballe) in his A Tribute to El Greco. This DVD contains the filming of a concert of Vangelis performing Mythodea on his custom-built electronic keyboards, along with the London Metropolitan Orchestra (arranged and conducted by Blake Neely), the 120-member chorus of the National Opera of Greece, and 28 percussionists. The concert was held on 28 June 2001 at the Temple of Zeus in Athens, Greece under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture and was presented by the Hellenic Cultural Heritage Society. It is the first major concert performed at the temple, which dates back to the 6th century BC., and featured a giant cloth screen (in the Marble Stadium, built for the revival of the Olympics in 1896) on which were projected images of Mars from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and icons from Greek Mythology. The concert features famous sopranos Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman. Mythodea is divided into ten movements. Movements 1, 2 and 10 predominantly feature the chorus, whereas the movements in between are mainly arias sung by either or both sopranos. For example, Movement 5 is sung by Kathleen and Movement 6 is sung by Jessye. With such a cast of artists, subject material and dramatic setting, the concert is, of course, spectacular. The only thing that spoils it for me is the encore, where Vangelis performs the theme song from Chariots of Fire. Now granted that that particular melody is his most well-known work (and judging from the cheering crowd the audience obviously loved it), I personally found it too different to the style of Mythodea for it to make an effective and harmonious encore. It's almost as if Beethoven finished a performance of his 9th Symphony followed by tinkling the tune of Fur Elise on a piano. Now, if Vangelis had played the closing theme of Heaven and Hell (used as the theme song in the TV series Cosmos).
Release date Australia
March 28th, 2008
Movie Format
  • DVD
DVD Region
  • Region 4
  • Standard Edition
Supported Audio
  • Dolby Digital Surround 5.1
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