The Journey to Ithaca
Janet Galván, conductor
Commissioned by the Ithaca College School of Music, the Ithaca College Choir, and Dr. Janet Galván, director
Commissioned by the Ithaca College School of Music and the Ithaca College Choir, The Journey to Ithaca came about through the imagination and dedication of Janet Galván, my first conducting mentor and teacher. She was so touched by the emotions found in this poetry that she felt compelled to commission a musical tapestry to enweave it. This work is a brilliantly optimistic composition. The lines and phrases are ebullient, flowing with a sense of vitality, exuberance, and hope. Central to the message of the text is this important philosophical idea: riches are found not only in the accomplishment of a goal or the achievement of a prize, but in the many and varied experiences that accompany such a quest, such a journey.
My own four years at Ithaca College fit so seamlessly into this same narrative. I set out for Ithaca as one man, and left from it a very different one. I owe that beautiful and profound transformation—my own personal journey to Ithaca—to the incredible professors and mentors that shaped my own education. I tell many people that I would not be where I am today without the patient and caring teaching of Janet Galván. And I know that I am just one of many hundreds of students who feel this way.
This work is dedicated humbly to Janet Galván and to the many students that she has helped to set forth from Ithaca. They will no doubt continue to enrich the lives of people across the country through their advocacy for education and pursuit of musical excellence.
As you set out for Ithaca
pray that the journey is long,
full of adventure, full of discovery
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon-do not fear them
You will never find things such as these on your way,
If your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
excitement stirs your spirit and your body.
The Laestrygonians and the Cyclops
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Pray that the journey is long.
That the summer mornings are many when
with such pleasure, such joy,
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and acquire fine merchandise,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
go to many Egyptian cities,
to gather information and learn from scholars.
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
Arriving there is your destiny.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
It is better to take many years;
So that you are old by the time you reach the island,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
Not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.
Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.
And if you find her poor, Ithaca will not have fooled you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
You will have understood what Ithacas mean.
-- Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)
translated Janet Galván & Charis Dimaris